Stephen Crane

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Please give me three example of personification in "A Mystery of Heroism."

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Stephen Crane makes ample use of personification throughout the story. When Fred Collins goes for water, he passes the active battle. As he nears the well, the exploding shells around him are personified. They are described as "demon fingers" pushing into the soldier's ears. The explosions "roar" like animals and with "menace." Similarly, the sounds of the rifle fire that the troops are exchanging is called a "sky . . . full of fiends" that are screaming their "wild rage."

As he finally gets to the well, the slow moving water is described as lazy or "indolent." It continues to take longer than Collins would like. The narrator calls it "stupid water" and says it criticized or "derided" him.

When he cannot fill the canteen, he takes a full bucket and starts running back toward his men. Midway, he encounters a wounded officer, whose anguished groans are "heard only by shells, bullets."

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Personification is the literary technique where an author makes it seem as if inanimate objects are animate -- that they have qualities that only animate objects have.  Given this definition, you should be able to see lots of personification right from the start of the story.

Here are some examples:

  • The armies were "wrestling."  Armies don't wrestle -- people do.
  • The artillery battery was "arguing" with the enemy's artillery.
  • Later on, the guns have "demeanours of stolidity and courage."
  • One of the officers is riding a "sober and reflective" horse.  Horses are, of course, animate, but they can't be sober and reflective -- those are human attributes.
  • The artillery shells hate the meadow.
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