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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Instant Short Story Text & Lesson Plans

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Instant Short Story Text & Lesson Plans


Instant Resources for An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce!


Whether you're looking for a short story to pair with the novel you're teaching, or you need a 2- to 3-day sub plan to use with the stories in your textbooks, Prestwick House Instant Short Story Packs go beyond basic comprehension to help students learn how to analyze literature. 

Each downloadable pack addresses key skills through 5-10 standards-based analysis questions by guiding students through a series of scaffolding graphic organizers and in-class activities. 

This Instant Short Story Pack for An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce includes:

  • Scaffolding graphic organizers and in-class activities
  • Standards-based objectives
  • Introduction and pre-reading notes
  • Complete short story text
  • Rigorous analysis questions
  • Detailed teacher's answer guide


About An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” is the story for which he is most famous, despite having written nearly 100 others. It was first published in The San Francisco Examiner on July 13, 1890. The next year, Bierce included it in his collection, Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. Since then, there have been at least three film depictions of the story, including a 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone and an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

You might find the technique of two parallel events and the surprise ending a little overdone, but what makes this story worth studying is that it is one of the first ever uses of this technique. Bierce isn’t using a cliché; it became a cliché when many other authors imitated him.

Critics have tried to assign a number of different themes to this story: The individual will to survive, love of home and family, the consequences of treachery. Whatever lesson or moral you feel this story is trying to teach, it is apparent that Bierce wanted primarily to entertain and intrigue his readers.

Bierce’s language should not pose too big a challenge for you, and the technique that forms the basis of this story should be familiar. As you read, consider the overall effect Bierce is trying to create. What emotional or psychological response is he hoping to evoke?

That effect, more than any deep, universal truth, is the point of studying a story like this.