A Mystery Of Heroism

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade July 2001

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"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, chunks of green and brown earth flying into the sun, swift-moving men, horses, batteries, and flags happening all at once.

        And then, within all this destruction comes a simple wish. "I wish I had a drink. I bet there's water in that there ol' well yonder." Some other soldiers continue to joke Collins about his thirst. Soon Collins finds himself in the Captain's quarters, asking his permission to go to the well and quench his thirst. After some deliberation, the Captain and Colonel both agree that Collins is dispensable and can go to the well"¦ so long as he takes some of the other boys' canteens with him.

        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...