Literary Analysis of "A Mystery of Herosim".
The theme of "A Mystery of Herosim" is the foolishness and pointlessness of war. Through his use of symbolism, Crane shows how war costs a very high price to accomplish its trivial goal. The story follows the soldier Collins on his impulsive journey to get water from a well across a dangerous field. Although Collins could easily be killed in doing this, he takes the joking suggestions of his comrades as a dare and goes anyway. After leaving, he realizes that he has been partly motivated by pride and wonders how his "quaint emotions" have led him into the face of death. He also contemplates heroism, and contemplates that as his motive. However, he decides that he must not be a hero because he has shame in his life. Eventually, he concludes that "heros were not much," anyway. Collins motivation of pride is parallel to the fact that many wars are initiated because of foolish pride. The desires of thousands of men at war to be heros and their confusion about wether or not they actually are heros, is represented by Collins consideration of heroism. Crane used vivid images of nature and beauty contracted with death and destruction. Although war stories of heroes are often glorified, their harsh reality is horrible. Cranes description of a beautiful meadow being destroyed through sever shelling parallels how war destroys innocent beauty.
The hopelessness and pointlessness of war is made clear by Cranes use of the symbol water. Collins journey involves risking his life for water, which represents life. On his way back from the well with a bucket of water, Collins stops to give some to a dying soldier. Once back, two lieutenants carelessly spill the water that Collins could have died for. These three events all maintain the same theme: A wars overall goal may be to bring about a victory that benefits people, but the risky process is not necessarily worth accomplishing this goal.