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His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it he found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue-he cold no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet (par. 35).

Peyton Farquhar, the victim being hanged in this story, envisions these thoughts as his life unknowingly closes out. Throughout the story he imagines himself escaping from the hanging and sees the most positive side possible of his death. Bierce illustrates this optimism through the thoughts of Peyton, and each part links to the hanging.

From paragraph 35, one can see that Peyton’s neck was in deep pain and was swollen. Peyton thinks he is walking through the woods going on eventually to find his wife waiting at home. However, the jolting pain is simply coming from his neck that is enveloped by a rope dangling from a bridge. Bierce continues to describe the circle of black around his neck from the rope. Peyton claims that he knows that the rope left a bruise, but the only thing bringing that to mind is the fact that the rope is getting tighter and tighter causing more pain to his neck.

This pain inflicted upon his neck was not all he was feeling. His eyes began to feel “congested”, and he could not close them anymore. The reason for this was the pressure exerted on his entire head from the rope. The rope was so tight that is was cutting off the blood flow leaving the head and traveling downwards to the rest of the body. This caused a build up of pressure in his head, forcing his eyes to begin to bulge out. Peyton also began to feel very thirsty, yet again; it was not thirst, but just his tongue beginning to swell because of the pressure. To relieve himself from this thirst he stuck his tongue out in the air, or so he thought. He was sticking his tongue out in the air because he was dying, which is a common reaction to death. He began to walk on the untraveled avenue, which symbolizes the avenue of death, and could no longer feel the ground beneath his feet. It felt as if he were walking on air, which proved to be an indication of hanging.

Peyton Farquhar had taken the best possible way to go through with a hanging. He had escaped, wandered home, and seen his wife one last time before actually dying. If actual death is similar to the death taken by Peyton, then it should be impossible to have a horrible death.


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