Fred Collins, the protagonist of "A Mystery of Heroism," learns much more about life and death through actually experiencing the Civil War rather than reading about it in a textbook or hearing about it in a lecture. Collins risks his life to get a bucket of water, and in doing so he sees how fleeting life can be. While he is risking his life to get water, Collins begins to think about the definition of a hero and doubts that he has been brave enough to measure up to the heroic deeds he has witnessed on the battlefield. When Collins stumbles across a dying man wanting a drink of water, he sees how foolish he is compared to someone who is paying the ultimate price for war. Although Collins' status of a hero is debatable, through his war experience is able to learn the true price of war and what does and does not make a person heroic. These are concepts that Collins could not have learned without experience.