What does it mean to be a hero? Does it mean that the person have to have super human abilities, and in return, be a hero? In “A Mystery of Heroism,” by Stephen Crane, this question is explored. In this story, we read about Fred Collins, who is a union solider in the Civil War. He is a simple man who is shameful, childish, and who is thrown into a war that has no place for him. During the course of the story, Collins yearns for a drink of well water located across an active battlefield. Finally, after going against all his inhibitions and judgment, he decides to make the suicidal trip. .
Collins pulls himself together and starts on his way to reach the well of water. He overcomes all the obstacles he faces surprising himself. “He wondered why he did not feel some keen agony of fear cutting his sense like a knife. He wondered at this, because 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.” Collins thought of himself as being a hero for a moment. For him a hero was a person who feared nothing and who was able to do what others thought of as being dangerous. It says, “He .
was, then a hero. He suffered the disappointment which we would all have if we discovered that we were ourselves capable of those deeds which we most admire in history and legend. This, then, was a hero.” .
To Collins a hero was a person who faced death without fear and who had nothing to be shameful of. After he remembers his past, he changes his mind about himself being a hero. It says in the story, “No, it could not be true. He was not a hero. Heroes had no .
shames in their lives, and, as for him, he remembered borrowing fifteen dollars from a friend and promising to pay it back the next day, and then avoiding that friend for ten months.” .
Collins realizes that he is not really a hero. The narrator says, “He saw that, in this matter of the well, the canteens, the shells, he was an intruder in the land of fine deeds.