The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage, by Steven Crane, has been considered one of the greatest war novels of all time. It is a story that realistically depicts the American Civil War through the eyes of Henry Fleming, an ordinary farm boy who decides to become a soldier.

Henry is very determined to become a hero, and the story tells Henrys voyage from being a young coward to becoming a brave man. This voyage is the classic trip from innocence to experience.

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, a simple farm boy, is rather excited when he hears the rumor that they will be fighting soon. It had always been a dream of his to fight in a war, and become a hero. Now his dream was coming true. Henry begins to think about what life was like before he entered the army, and remembers some stories of war he has heard from old veterans. This flashback is very effective in showing how his previous experiences have affected his thoughts on war now. It is very clear that he is afraid that he will not be able to withstand the pressures of a war. He keeps telling himself that if he wants to become a hero and realizes he can not run away. He must stick out the battle with the rest of his fellow soldiers. While marching along, Henry sees the first corpse he has ever seen. He shows sorry for the man because the dead man had died in such poor conditions. The souls of his shoes were worn bare. When Henry sees the corpse, he begins to wonder if his generals actually know what they are doing. He thinks that the generals are leading him right into a trap and right into the middle of the enemy, the rebels.

Henry deals with his fear of battle by acting calm and confident. He acts as if he

has been in a thousand battles, and complains about the walking. It shows one of Henry’s defense mechanisms and how he can use his arrogance to hide his innocence.

Regiment 304 moves on to battle the next day. Henry is getting very scared, but is

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...hey are going to be fighting is going to be very tough, and the general is looking for spare regiment. The leader feels that there is no way Regiment 304 will survive the battle alone, and calls the soldiers ‘mule drivers’, thinking that they are slow, and rather stupid. When Henry and Tom hear this, they are very upset. They are determined to fight as hard as they can, and with all their heart and souls.

Henry and Tom prove themselves well in the battle. They steal the confederate flag, and are both brave enough to go out on the field without weapons. After the regiment retreats, the general recognizes both soldiers as extremely brave, and comment that they are fit to be generals themselves. This final action is what finalizes the movement

from innocence to experience for Henry and Tom. They went into the war as little boys,

and now they are moving on as men. They have both earned their red badges of courage,

as well as the hero status they had dreamed of obtaining forever.

In conclusion, The Red Badge of Courage is a great novel and I hope you will take

the time to read it. But, if The Red Badge of Courage is not for you, Steven Crane has

many more great novels
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