Jes Doering Karen Sutter Doheney Eng 112 March 21, 2006 Heroism Oh What Is Your Meaning Heroism, so many meanings to such a small word. Dare I stare at the screen any longer in hopes to gain some knowledge of what it truly means? Or shall use the dictionary and just take what it says a hero is and just stick by it? No, to truly understand a word, no matter how simple it may mean, it is best to read something that may cause a stir in the rivers in the brain. Stephan Crane’s “The Mystery of Heroism” seems just enough to hopefully comprehend what heroism can mean. On to the path of discovery for the true meaning of heroism, shall the journey only be conquered in the end with my best understanding of what heroism truly is. I see Collins like I was when I was younger. After Hurricane Fran hit us, there was a lot of damage done. Normally I wouldn’t have cared but as I was out cleaning the debris from my yard, I noticed several birds’ nests have been knocked out or destroyed. Now seeing as school was out for over a week because there had been no power, I had the option of going outside and playing with my age mates. But for some reason I wasn’t tempted into doing such. Collins going out and getting the water was like me cleaning the debris. There was really nothing else neither he nor I could do under our situations. He returning from getting water and passing the dying mans was like me noticing the nests. There was that choice to ignore and continue on with the goal, or do something, anything that may have some help. Collins gave the dying man water, and I spent my days off making birds nests and placing them in spots where birds would go, so that they had a place to go home to. Like Collins who got picked on for giving the dying man water, my family and friends teased me for making nests for the birds. I’ll be the first to admit I have done some weird things in my youth, but in their eyes, this one was the weirdest yet. Neither Collins nor I did what we did for others view on us. Like Collins, it was a way to rectify some things we may have done wrong in our past. Collins came to the self-discovery that he was a flake, lazy, and not the best he could have been. But he did something out of the norm that people would have normally seen him as. He went out into that field, even with the heavy fire going on around him, he got the water, he helped a dying man, to which he normally wouldn’t have cared, and he came back with the water alive. None of the others though he would make it. They never thought he had the guts to do so. So it was a big surprise when he did. My family didn’t think I would have cared if the nests were destroyed or not. Instead I chose to make nests instead of a game of kick ball surprised them. Thinking back on what I did in my life and the reading I did for the text, I gave myself a whole new meaning for hero. Instead of the cartoon heroes I used to want to be like, I see that heroes can be from the everyday person, to the most unexpected person. A hero is not measured by how strong he is, but how he chooses to do what he does. It is what they feel they accomplished in the end that makes them a hero. What they gained in the knowledge after accomplishing their tasks is what makes them a true hero. Plus there are heroes in the world who don’t use strength in being a hero. Those kinds of heroes are your head smart heroes. Those are the men and women, who work in labs finding cures for the ailments that, haunt us today. Though not all of our heroes survive their tasks, it is because they did the task that makes them the hero. Christopher Reeve, who passed away October 10, 2004 of heart failure, was a hero. He, despite that he was paralyzed, still contributed to funding many researches to help find multiple cures. He didn’t let his disability keep him from trying to make a difference. He will always be millions of people’s, whom he may have or may not have met in life, hero. It’s the act itself that defines the hero. Sure anyone can fund searches, but how many check on them themselves? There have many donators that could care less, but the figure that if they show that they are donating that it makes them look good to the public eye. So in the past, the word hero was misused on many people. Would I consider Collins a hero? Yes, because even if he wasn’t the best soldier in the past, his actions during the story made up for it. Not every hero is the stereotypical Male or female, who does good deeds in his everyday life. There is the average everyday man who doesn’t one good deed in their life, no matter how small it could be. As Crane states in the text: He was, then a hero. He suffered that 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. After all, heroes were not much. (335) Not all heroes start off as a good person too. There are people who do bad things in there life then try and make up for it later in life by doing better things to help others. Was it worth going to get the water in the end? I would say so. Instead of just sitting there while all the heavy fire was going on, he went and did something. In some way we went to meet death, instead of death coming to him. Whether he dies in the end is unknown but it is a possibility. Despite the fact that he was in some way suckered into getting the water by the picking on from his comrades “Well, if yeh want a drink so bad, why don’t yeh go git it (333)?” That simple challenge sparked something within him. He rose to the bait. The end product of the bucket of water was not his fault. It was the foolishness of the two soldiers that the water was spilled. They were goofing around as Crane stated, “When one tried to drink, the other teasingly knocked his elbow (337).” A life is like that bucket of water. In the hands of the wrong person it can easily be lost or in the buckets case dropped and spilled “The bucket lay on the ground empty (338)”. That right there, to most would have made a person feel that all they did to accomplish something, was for nothing. But that’s not true. He did was he set out to do. Collins brought the water back. There for he is still the hero. It’s the two men, who dropped the water, which rained on something good. But Collins has something over them that they can never take from him. Not only did he get the water, he survived getting the water. Not only did he survive, he gave a life something to comfort it into death. Those acts alone does Collins have over the two. That right there makes him a far better man and a greater hero than those two could have ever hoped to accomplish. No life, whether it be man or animal, living or dying is lesser than the rest. Its how you help that that truly is something good and makes heroism stand out in the actions. Being able to relate to Collins helped me understand the story far better than not being able to relate. I was able to compare aspects of his situation to my own. In understanding the text, I was also able to come up with a better aspect of what a hero was as a human being. I was able to see that not all heroes have the situation in front of them easily to be solved like in cartoons. Also not all heroes admit to being afraid. It takes a true hero to admit a “weakness” such as fear. I got that to be a hero it means making a difference whether it is to 1 person or thing or a large mass. A person is viewed different in everyone’s eyes, but it’s the one helped in the end that’s opinion makes the difference. My journey or more like my conquest in finding the best if not true meaning of heroism now conquered, may I find some sort of comfort knowing that despite all that I endured for the nests, I was a hero to those birds. This conquest to find a meaning was one of well worth while. It stimulated something small into something big Work Cited Crane, Steven. “The Mystery of Heroism.” The Rinehart Reader. Ed 3. Eds. Wyrick, Jean and Slaughter, Beverly. Harcourt College Publishers, 1999. 331-338
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