Stephen Crane’s story entitled “A Mystery of Heroism” can be said as a great story in terms of using signs, symbols, language use, power, and character emotion.
Crane used different expressive words to show the readers the situation of the soldiers while waiting for a big battle. They were not good-looking because of the dust and dirt that went through their bodies and uniforms. The readers would truly understand the life and situation of the field where group of soldiers were looking forward to death as they march their bodies into the forest without any assurance of being alive.
Personally, I can say that Crane made a good attack of simple yet significant kind of heroism in his story. He showed that heroism is not always about dying for your country or people; it can also be shown as you face the risk of death for your own sake and for your company soldiers. It illustrates simplicity when it comes to the main conflict of the story – thirstiness.
The soldiers are all thirsty but they refrain from going to the well for it will be the entry point to hell but Collins faced his fear of death and went to the well. For him, going to the well and get some drink would give him strength rather than ignoring his thirst and went to the battle and die.
As first, his comrades influenced him to get some drink but as soon as he gets there, his dignity raised him to conquer his fear from all the manifestation of death that may surround him.
As what the narrator described Collins, he was just a simple man with imperfection and uncertainties in life. He depicts Collins as “irritable, childish, and diabolical,” (Crane, 494).
It means that though he was dignified as a man that led him to become a hero; he is an imperfect person with circumstances and irrational beliefs during his teenage years and can be the same while he was in the battle.
However, Crane wanted to show that heroism is not about being perfect to face your lifetime. He wanted to share his thought that despite of all the flaws that a person has, he would still be proclaim as a hero once he makes a difference for the goodness of many.
He used the setting soldier’s battle in the forest for it was always the situation where young men became heroes of the contemporary world. However, the irony within here is that heroism does not went through the battle itself fighting enemies to win the pride of the nation but doing a simple task to make all the comrades live by giving them liquid to refresh their empty and knuckled bodies.
As I read the story, I felt sorrow and pain towards the soldiers. They need to be tough outside of their being even if they were weak within their souls.
Through this, it can be seen that even they do not have the courage to do much things for their comrades and nation; they were already heroes of the country for they show the world that they could face the reality of death even if they do not deserve to die. It shows that they were all heroes from the day they went to the battle until they breathe their last.
As a conclusion to this, Crane depicts the story of human heroism. It is a simple representation of true brotherhood and toughness. All soldiers deserve a great award for all their sacrifices and strength. Though it was a fictional story, the readers can feel the truthfulness of reality in the society. It showed that being a soldier is not just a simple job but a passionate responsibility to whole nation and they need to survive to be the armor of salvation.
Crane, Stephen. “A Mystery of Heroism” p.490-496, 1895