The story takes place during the America’s civil war. The main character of the story is Peyton Farquhar. Farquhar is not a Confederate or Union Soldier. Farquhar is a civilian sympathizer of the south and Confederate military. Farquhar could not serve in the military due to a “Circumstance of an imperious nature”, which was never explained inside the story. Farquhar was given information from a spy posing as a Confederate soldier.
The spy advised Farquhar that the union is repairing the railroad, preparing for another advance and has restored the Owl Creek Bridge. The spy tells Farquhar that anyone attempting to interfere with the repairs or advancement of the Union will be “summarily hanged”. Farquhar had longed for the “distinction” of a soldier and he seizes the opportunity to assist in the southern cause. This is where the short story of Peyton Farquhar begins.
The story places Farquhar on top of the Owl Creek Bridge, with a noose around his neck, hands bound behind his back and under guard of Union Soldiers. Farquhar’s conscious takes him to a fictitious world, in which the noose breaks and he struggles for freedom. Farquhar falls into the Owl Creek, avoids volleys of gunfire from union soldiers and pushes through physical fatigue in his journey home. Upon arrival home, Farquhar attempts to embrace his wife and ultimately surrenders to external forces. Farquhar never escaped the noose; Farquhar is hanged to death at Owl Creek Bridge.
Farquhar initial conflict in the story was external. The story dives deep into the internal conflict of a condemned man’s mind longing for freedom. The freedom of Farquhar’s mind come to an abrupt end when the external force of the noose breaks his neck. The external and internal conflict in the story are intermingled. I find that both the internal and external conflicts of this story to be of equal significance.