A Mystery of Heroism by Stephen Crane

Summary: A Mystery of Heroism is about Fred Collins whom is in the middle of a battle during a war, people are dying around him and the ground is being dug up by explosive shells when he says he wants a drink of water from a well in the middle of the battle field. The other man of the company mock him to go get a drink if he is so thirsty, and eventually he something in him decides he will get a drink from the well, and he takes off to get the water.


Fred Collins - soldier that decides he will get a drink from a well in the middle of a battle field

Section One:

  • The battle is in full force with the shells landing close to the infantry
  • Collins says he is thirsty, wonders if there is water anywhere
  • An officer remarks that "they couldn't shoot any harder if the whole army was massed here!"; An officer is shot on his horse in the middle of the battle field trying to get orders out to another commander
  • Collins says he sees a well in the middle of the battle field and when asked how he will get there by his comrades he states he will if his comrades don't quit harassing him about it
  • The fellow soldiers do not stop giving Collins a hard time about getting the water so he goes and ask permission from his captain to go
  • The captain gives Collins permission not knowing whether Collins wanted to really go or not
  • Collins is told if he goes to bring some extra canteens
  • Getting ready to go Collins does not feel any fear, Collins thinks this is what heroes feel like, but says he cannot be a hero because he has done things wrong in his life
  • Collins runs through the field and gets to the well, he begins to get scared when he fills the water into the canteens because it takes so long for them to fill up
  • Collins sees a bucket and decides he will fill the bucket instead and then begins to run through the field back to the infantry
  • On the way back through the battle field Collins hears the fallen officer that is going to die ask for water, Collins says he cannot stop but after running by the officer Collins turns around and gives the man a drink
  • Upon returning to the infantry he gives the bucket of water to the comrades who drop it on the ground

Other Notes:

  • The well is in the middle of a battlefield with artillery shells exploding all around it
  • Collins decides to go for the water because his comrades keep saying he would not get it; Collins is upset though because "he was an intruder in the land of fine deeds" ; heroes were not supposed to have any "shames" in there life
  • Collins first denies the soldier out of fear for his own life, then turns around after the officers head "sinks" down; the officers death is imminent
  • After giving the officer water; the officer makes a sigh like a child; The officer is most likely thankful he was able to get some comfort before he died

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