Crane portrays Henry as a typical young American brought up in the nineteenth century (Weisberger, 22). He has been taught to associate manhood with courage, to dream of the glories of warfare, and to be instinctively patriotic (Breslin, 2). As a result, when the civil war breaks out, Henry volunteers to join the Union Army (Gibson, 61). Immediately, his mother disapproves of his decision, claiming that he would be much more useful on the farm (Crane, 23). At this point in the novel Henry is not mature enough to recognize the validity of his mothers statement (Gibson, 63).
Fielder, Leslie A. Understanding the American Novel. New York: Stein and Day, 1975. Gibson, Donald B. The Red Badge of Courage: Redefining the Hero.
To begin, the story starts out with a huge debate between the soldiers. One boy had heard a rumor that the regiment would be moving on to fight a battle the next day. Some of the soldiers agree with this boy. Others think that their regiment will never go into a real battle. While watching this argument, Henry, the protagonist, decides that he would rather go lay down and think rather then take part in the heated argument between the soldiers.
Henry joined the army because he was drawn to the glory of military conflict, but since he joined, all the army has done is wait. At last the regiment is given the orders to march, and the soldiers spend several wearying days traveling on foot. Eventually they near a battlefield, and they begin to hear the distant roar of battle. After taking their positions, they were charged by the enemy; Henry, boxed in by his fellow soldiers, realizes that he could not run even if he wanted to. He fires mechanically, feeling like a gear in a huge machine.
Gale Research Inc., Detroit. 1989: 304-307. Greenblatt, Stephen. Introduction to the Tempest. The Norton Shakespeare.
Henry is a young man with romantic perception about the greatness of war. Against his mother wishes he enlist in the Union army. After weeks of no fighting Henry speedily discovered things about himself he never knew. Since Henry go to the Army all him and his fellow soldier have been doing is sitting around waiting and dreaming of their first fight. But Henry starts to wonder and to worry, what if he gets scared when faced with war, will he run and flee when the opportunity for battle finally arises.