An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
How we cite our quotes:
To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!—the idea seemed to him ludicrous. (3.1)
Death in Farquhar's case is not only frightening and painful, but also threatens to be somewhat amusing. Farquhar's death is doubly assured (triply, actually, since the soldiers are waiting with guns), but he still imagines the possibility of survival and escape – and that is perhaps the most ridiculous thing of all.
"To be hanged and drowned," he thought, "that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair." (3.1)
Bierce's sardonic humor shines at its brightest in this line of dialogue. Dying of strangulation and asphyxiation is fine, but being shot is too much. In his comedic analysis of his options, Farquhar makes us wonder if there is anything fair about death.
He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Aeolian harps. He had not wish to perfect his escape -- he was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken. (3.14)
Once Farquhar gets to dry land, his surroundings become idyllic and unfamiliar. Though he is a native of this part of Alabama, Farquhar doesn't recognize the forest. The plants, light, and music all seem to hint at a heavenly place.