American Literature has had many different and dynamic styles of writing throughout its relatively short history. It seems though that we remember the writers who style and world intrigued us the most. The ones who people never really knew what the author was thinking or why he was writing what he was. The writers who wrote the gothic and almost scary stories of the late 19th century stick out in many peoples mind. Many people recall Edgar Allen Poe, but the other Author that may not get as much attention is Ambrose Bierce.
He has a very distinct style to create an even more distinct world for his stories. The world that Ambrose Bierce creates is one of despair and uncertainty, where his characters always seem to have a fate that they would rather not fulfill. His characters always seem to have a bad outcome and a hopeless end. “An Arrest” is a short story that Ambrose Bierce wrote that falls into his world of despair perfectly. The first sentence of this short story goes as follows, “Having murdered his brother-in-law, Orrin Brower of Kentucky was a fugitive from justice”.
Already after the first sentence Bierce shows you that the character is already doomed. Also Bierce shows us with this first sentence that Orrin was trying to avoid his fate. Ambrose goes on to explain that the fugitive escaped the county jail by hitting a guard with an iron pipe. He also tells us why Orrin had escaped the jail; he escaped because he was awaiting trial. By Bierce telling the reader that Orrin was awaiting trial for murder and escapes, he is showing us that he is desperate and trying to escape his fate.
It’s not a bad reason but the way Bierce tells us this is how he starts to create his world. Ambrose simply just tells us “Mr. Holt had had trouble with his wife”. He uses this line to start to create his world by only giving us a little bit of information; he leaves us confused and uncertain. Bierce hadn’t told us how much his wife meant to him or what kind of troubles they were having, all he does is leave us with questions to be asked. Ambrose Bierce is good at creating confusion and uncertainty in his world and stories.
The examples from the short stories of Ambrose Bierce are only the tip of the iceberg in how he creates his world as a writer. His world is always one that has despair or some sort of confusion and a great style that makes his stories very successful. Ambrose Bierce also always seems to have an awful and hopeless ending for his characters. As American Literature continues to be studied so will the authors who’s styles interest us the most and Bierce is just one of those many great Authors.