Serving as a union soldier in the Civil War, Bierce .
learned of war' s savageness, and how stupid and degrading .
it was. His writing style can be contributed to his war .
time experiences. His works are blunt, brutally realistic, .
and his attacks on others in the San Francisco Examiner, .
(American Authors 1600-1900 76) were nowhere near .
politically correct. Bierce's short stories "often hinge on .
an ironic surprising conclusion" (Contemporary Authors 48), .
as in one of his better known works "An Occurrence At Owl .
Creek Bridge", were the sudden death of a Confederate spy .
catches us by surprise. A forerunner of the realist .
movement, Ambrose Bierce's cynical views of live and human .
existence gave him the nickname, "the wickedest .
man in San Francisco" (Contemporary Authors 41).
Although often portrayed as a realist for his accounts .
on the Civil War, "Bierce was not striving for documentary .
realism, as he himself admitted"(Short Story Criticism 48). .
Instead, Bierce was interested in manipulating the reader's .
viewpoint. The perspective in which the story is written is .
used to manipulate the reader's viewpoint, for example in .
"Chickamauga", where a bloody battlefield is seen through .
the eyes of a deaf child(Short Story Criticism 48), or in .
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", where a man about to be .
hanged for treason, dreams of his escape. Bierce's often .
ironic twists leave the reader stunned. As noted by Alfred .
Kazin, "There is invariably a sudden reversal, usually in a .
few lines near the end, that takes the story away from the .
reader, as it were, that overthrows his confidence in the .
nature of what he has been reading, that indeed overthrows .
his confidence" (Short Story Criticism 49). For all of .
this, why is Bierce considered a realist? Bierce, unlike .
any other short story author before him, was not romantic .
with his war depictions. He painted in our mind, its .
gruesomeness, its wastefulness. Bierce's stories depict .
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