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The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane Essay

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The Red Badge of Courage is a novel by Stephen Crane about a boy, Henry Fleming, “who is caught up in an unnamed Civil war battle… and in his struggle to find reality amid the nightmarish chaos of war… discovers courage, humility and perhaps wisdom. ” The book begins with a regiment of soldiers awakening to a tall man running waving his shirt like a banner “swelling with a tale he had heard from a reliable friend, who had heard it from a truthful cavalryman, who had heard it from his trustworthy brother, one of the orderlies at division headquarters. The regiment was finally going to move. This excited and upset some of the soldiers because the regiment had been camped there for a long period of time.

Some of the soldiers believed the tall man and were grateful they were finally moving, others were angry with him because they did not believe they would move because they had been there for such a long time. This caused “altercations” among the regiment with “epithets” thrown towards the tall man. After the “youthful private” had heard enough “he went to his hut and crawled through an intricate hole that served as a door.

He wished to be alone with some new thoughts that he had lately come to him. ” As the youth, Henry, was pondering his thoughts Crane flashes back to the time Henry enlisted in the army. Henry’s mother did not want him to enlist because she believed he was of more importance on the farm rather then on a battle field, but Henry had read about glorious battles and longed to see it all. A few pages from the flashback the regiment is finally moving and going into battle. The men talk among themselves about whether or not they will run.

When the question gets to Henry he says he will stay and fight unless everyone else runs, and in that case he will too. When they finally get to the point where they are fighting Henry gets a little nervous but stays and they win that battle. But then the rebels lead a surprise attack and two men run Henry runs also. As he hides he can hear the sounds of battle and hears that the Union has won and Henry starts to feel guilt. This is where Henry starts his transition.

He had only read about battles before and how the soldiers were heroic and that is what Henry wanted to be. He did not realize what war really was and when the time came for him to actually fight he found himself to be a coward. Henry did not want this. He wanted a battle wound to show he was courageous. At the point he finds the Union had won the battle he became full of guilt and jealousy and was angry at himself. This is when he realizes this is not what he wanted to be and he hates the thought of having to bare telling his regiment he had run.

Later he then gets hit in the head with the butt of a gun from a passing man and when he returns to his regiment lies and says it was a battle wound and he was shot in the head. At the end of the book at the last battle Henry realizes what he truly wants to be and becomes a dutiful soldier and bares the flag proudly into battle, has no weapons, steals the confederate flag and fights bravely, so bravely that a general comments and says they are fit to be generals. The last battle is the final transition from doubtful youth to dutiful soldier and becomes a hero in the eyes of many.

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The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane Essay. (2018, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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