Red Badge Of Courage

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In Stephen Crane's novel "The Red Badge of Courage", we examine the episodes of war through the eyes of the main character, Henry Fleming. Because the book is rather vague about many details, we don't know how old Henry is, what he looks like, or where he comes from. We do know that Henry is from somewhere in New York and that he was raised by his mother. Although some people argue that throughout the novel Henry matures and becomes a better person, facts from the book show just the opposite. Henry is a conceited , smug young man who sees himself as a martyr and a hero; when in fact he is a coward.
Henry begins his journey by signing up for the Union army. While this may seem like a brave step, Henry takes it for the wrong reasons. He is unsure of the Union cause, and without really understanding what he was fighting for, Henry saw visions of himself as a hero. Henry's thoughts of war are rather distorted: He had read signs of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures, extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds(Crane, 3). This simply shows that Henry had romanticized the was to something of a glorious adventure in his head.
Even when his mother tries to give him rational advice, Henry sat disappointed, expecting a speech on heroism and pride.
When Henry and his regiment (the 304th New York) finally integrate into camp life, he begins to question himself. His regiment had been static for a long time and
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Henry becomes bored and unhappy. For time he begins to question his bravery and he feels rather insecure. In the regiments first battle, Henry fights well. His admiration for himself reaches a disgusting level: He felt that he was a fine fellow. He saw himself even with those ideals that he had considered far beyond him. He smiled in deep gratification
(Crane, 30). In this passage one can see Henry beginning to falsely view himself as a hero. At the beginning of the 304th New York regiment's second battle, Henry notices that two other soldiers are running in fear of the fight. He suddenly becomes rather scared and flees the battle as well. He tries to rationalize his actions to himself by saying: Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that henry had romanticized the was to something of a glorious adventure in his head.
  • Analyzes how his regiment had been static for a long time, and he begins to question himself.
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