An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
How we cite our quotes:
These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. (3.1)
Like Farquhar's military execution, pain is also highly regimented. Military justice and military time determine Farquhar's death and pain, but his own sense of time rebels against this structure.
Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieutenant on shore was taking a part in the morning's work. How coldly and pitilessly—with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquility in the men—with what accurately measured interval fell those cruel words:
"Attention, company! . . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!" (3.6-7)
Like everything else about the soldiers in the story, the lieutenant's orders are regimented and precise. Through his words, the lieutenant enforces military time.
As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther downstream—nearer to safety. (3.9)
Farquhar must rely on external evidence to measure time, since he no longer has a coherent grasp on the passing of time.