The Red badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Posted: August 12th, 2013

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane




The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Chapter 1-6

1.         The reference the writer accords to Henry Fleming is the ‘the youth’. Crane refers to him as the young soldier in order to emphasize on the aspect of the protagonist’s immaturity, which characterizes the main character, Henry.

2.         In the first chapter, the statement, “yellow light upon the color of his ambitions”, by Henry regarding his mother’s disagreement, is metaphorical. The word, yellow, portrays cowardice. Henry views his mother’s discouragement as a hindrance to his heroic dreams. Another example is the statement, “the red badge of courage”, which is metaphorical because of its inference to an honorary presented for heroism. The third metaphor is Crane’s description of the regiment whereby he describes it as a living person “stretched out on the hills, resting.”

Chapters 7-12

1.         The encounter with the tattered man coupled with Jim’s death disturbs Henry since it makes him merge dream with reality. He views the death of the tattered man as heroic and becomes disgusted at himself because of his cowardice described by his evasion from battle. Moreover, he wishes for an injury to authenticate his nerve. However, the clash between existence and honor disturbs Henry considerably. Though Henry desires to act bravely and receive honor from the other men, he is afraid to die and hence experiences self-doubt.

2.         Henry receives his wound when he is peering at the battlefield. He witnesses the enemy forces break through the defense of his fellow infantrymen who retreat and rush toward him. Frantic and beleaguered by the events of the feud, Henry clutches the arm of a fleeing man in an attempt to know the miscalculation. However, the hysterical man shouts at Henry to let him loose but Henry does not comply, leading to the individual striking him firmly on the skull with a gun, forcing Henry to start bleeding from his head wound.

Chapters 13-18

1.         Because of the letters in the yellow envelope, Henry feels that he is superior to Wilson. He asserts that the letters were a concrete proof of Wilson’s cowardice despite the fact that he ran while Wilson stood his ground and fought. At this point, Henry changes to a vain and hypocritical person driven by insufficient moral behavior. He possesses a lack of judgment since he permits his peers’ opinions to determine his logic of truth and moral behavior.

2.         Crane depicts several instances of irony in chapter 17. For instance, the deputy officer of Henry’s regiment lauds Henry for his efforts asserting that if he possessed “ten thousand wildcats like Henry”, the war would be won in seven days. The statement indicates that being fierce and outwardly violent surmises to courage among the soldiers. Moreover, the soldiers congratulate themselves and Henry for fighting like beasts at their last moment of courage and victory.

Chapters 19-24

1.         The red badge of courage symbolizes the wound received during the time of war hence indicates a soldier’s courage and involvement in battle. Henry wins the badge because he attains a wound that he received from war despite the lies that he received it because of a gunshot. This is because the red badge of courage symbolizes the injury one receives in battle; hence, the wound accorded to Henry by the frenzied soldier is his red badge of courage.

2.         Henry has achieved a permanent state of confidence at the end. This is indicated by the comparison and the change in his personality from the first chapter to the last. Throughout the beginning, Henry desires wounds and injuries, he desires to engage in war since he views it as an honorary task, however as the story progresses, reality begins dawning on him. He realizes that fear is the essence of war and finds his self-confidence shaky while attempting to investigate various symbols such as flags and dead soldiers for answers. However, in the end, Henry recovers his confidence and courage by single handedly forcing the enemy army to scatter. Moreover, he realizes that war is not good and infact hopes for peace.

The story is good since it emphasizes on the soldier as well as the psychological trauma soldiers experience in war. However, it does not portray the real war since it only concentrates on the psychological element of soldiers without giving reference to the historical context of the real event.


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