Stephen Crane Questions and Answers

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A Mystery Of Heroism Summary

What is a summary of "A Mystery of Heroism" and some symbolism?

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kimfuji eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Stephen Crane  describes in the short story, Mystery of Heroism, why a young man would risk his life to get two buckets of water. In the beginning ofthe story the character, Collins, is cheered on by his comrades to get the water in the middle of a skirmish and he risks his life which is so precious. Crane describes the battlefield in which thousands of wounded and dying soldiers show what war is really like, death and destruction. Stephan Crane uses many symbolic ways to show that war is feudal and destructive.

The story shows that war is dehumanizing. In Crane's short story, he writes of a character who risks his life for a pail of water, because someone joked him about his thirst, "Well, if yeh want a drink so bad, why don't yeh go git it?"The character, Collins, shows that war is so dehumanizing that he will die to fetch a pail of water.

Crane is using Collins to express the way war can tear someone apart, by risking a life that is held to most so dear, over a pail of water. Collins has nothing else to live for. If Collins died he would be in a place where he was no longer hungry, tired, cold, or thirsty. He describes that people who join the army are raised to drill then die, suggesting that anyone who may join the army will drill to accept death. Here Crane is showing the dehumanization process by saying to accept death when it comes. To be human you have the right to live, no one should accept death not even war should take that away from anyone. In the story Stephen Crane shows how war is dehumanizing.

The story shows that the only result of war is death and destruction. The setting shows how war is so destructive and can take you away from something that we strive to keep close to us. Crane's unique style of the usage of irony shows the reader how war is destructive and deadly.

Crane shows us that army is pretty on the outside but horrific and terrifying on the inside.


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irmastar93 | Student



the stories about a guy getting water, he risks his life and gets it, he brings it back to the other guys and they drop it on the ground on purpose. and they lived happily ever after.

matt111 | Student

I am sorry to tell you kimfuji, but that is a terrible answer. Anyone who has made their self familiar with that story would know that you are quite off. Stephen Crane was not trying to show how war is dehumanizing and this man simply acted upon a joke from his commorades. It represents Collins as being a coward and someone who did not belong in war because he kept evading the battle. Sorry but anyone following her answer is absolutly crazy.

lol1234 | Student

try looking it up on google.. ;)