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A Mystery Of Heroism Essay

563 words - 3 pages

"A Mystery Of Heroism." The title suggests that the author, Stephen Crane, himself questions the validity of Fred Collins' heroism. As the story takes place, Crane begins to paint an image of Collins into the reader's mind. He is a scrawny, outspoken, and dispensable member of A Company who is struggling with the internal debate of whether or not he is a hero.

        As the story breaks, it is obvious that Collins is in war. "The dark uniforms of the men were so coated with dust from the incessant wrestling of the two armies that the regiment almost seemed a part of the clay bank which shielded them from the shells." Crane continues with a grim description, which surround "A Company." Homes half torn to pieces by shells and soldiers, ...view middle of the document...

        Now Collins finds himself in the meadow with his company far behind him. He begins to think to himself, ""¦human expression had said loudly for centuries that men should feel afraid of certain things, and that all men who did not feel this fear were phenomena heroes." Is Crane therefore telling us Collins is in fact a hero?

        After reading on, Collins is found making a mad dash back toward his company. On his way he sees a fallen officer who asks, "Say, young man, give me a drink of water, will you?" Thinking he has no time to spare, his face white with horror, Collins quickly spits out, "I can't," and runs on.

        But he turns. Quickly Collins runs back, spilling the water as he the fallen soldier drinks from the bucket. Jerking the bucket away, Collins runs back toward the company where he is received with cheer. As the men playfully tip the bucket while another tries to drink, it is found that the bucket is empty. This is where the author makes it known that Collins is a hero. Carter destroys any past perceptions of what makes a hero by writing a character who reflects the every day "Joe." Collins shakes with horror while trying to retrieve water in the middle of battle. When he ultimately returns to the company and the bucket is found empty, it is realized that Collins was with the fallen soldier so long that the man was able to drink all that was in bucket. Although it seemed like only a matter of seconds, it was much longer. And with this Carter makes is point. It doesn't matter what the character of the person is"¦ if that person acts in honor that person is a hero.

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