No Heros in The Red Badge of Courage and A Farewell to Arms

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No Heros in The Red Badge of Courage and A Farewell to Arms

Many great literary novels have the protagonist, the main character

of the novel, being portrayed as the "hero". There are many different

deeds and actions that can characterize a person as a hero such as saving

someone from a burning house at the risk of one's own life. The main

distinguishing characteristic of a true hero is self-sacrifice, whether it

be scarifice of your own personal desires or ideals or sacrifice of

physical well being to help others. There are a few novels in which the

main character of the work does not exemplify the deeds and thought of a

true hero. Two such works include Stephen Cranes' The Red Badge of Courage

and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

Both The Red Badge of Courage and A Farewell to Arms have war as

the background of the story. War is the perfect setting in which one can

be tested to see if he or she is a hero. This idea is the major framework

of The Red Badge of Courage, in which Henry Fleming aspires to be a man, a

"hero" in the eyes of the masses by enlisting in the army. Henry's goal of

returning a man from war has already marred his image of being a potential

hero because his thoughts are about himself and not about the welfare of

others. Also, the fact that he wants to impress people and appear heroic

is a selfish aspiration. Heroes act not to impress others but to help them.

Usually the actions of a hero are impulsive and not premeditated because

the hero does what he/she believes is right and what their heart tells them

is right and not what others judge is right.

In The Re...

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...ern Critical Interpretations: Stephan Crane's The Red Badge of Courage. New Yourk: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Cody, Edwin H. Stephen Crane. Revised Edition. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. Logan, IA: Perfection Learning Corporation, 1979.

Fielder, Leslie A. Understanding the American Novel. New York: Stein and Day, 1975.

Gibson, Donald B. The Red Badge of Courage: Redefining the Hero. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929.

Weeks, Robert. Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.

Wolford, Chester L. "Stephen Crane." Critical Survey of Long Fiction. Ed. Frank N. Magill. English Language Series. Vol. 2. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1991.

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