At the beginning, Henry Fleming has an undeveloped identity because his inexperience limits his understanding of heroism, manhood, and courage. For example, on the way to war, “The regiment was fed and caressed at station after station until the youth [Henry] had believed that he must be a hero” (Crane 13). Since he has yet to fight in war, Henry believes a hero is defined by what others think of him and not what he actually does. The most heroic thing he has done so far is enlist, but even that was with ulterior motives; he assumes fighting in the war will bring him glory, yet another object of others’ opinions. At this point, what he thinks of himself is much less important than how the public perceives him. As a result of not understanding the attributes of a hero, Henry mistakenly labels himself as one and distorts his identity . Secondly, during months of waiting and inactivity, Henry thinks to himself that “men were better, or more timid [nowadays]. Secular and religious education had effaced the throat-grappling instinct…” (Crane 14). Being timid is the same as lacking courage, which Henry links with violence. He also envisions manhood as achieved through brute strength and bloodshed when he thinks the men of his time were less masculine than the Greeks he idealizes because education has made men less prone to resolve conflict by fighting. Henry’s attempt to outline these character traits before experiencing war creates false goals that dictate his actions to achieve them. Next, Henry worries about becoming a deserter in the heat of battle and decides that “in his life, he had taken certain things for granted… [and] as far as war was concerned, he knew nothing of himself” (Crane 16). The emphasis on taking certain things...
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...Whether Nick’s belief that everyone should have a living person stand by h im/her after death is a universal truth or not, he follows his heart rather than the crowd. Finally, before he leaves to the Midwest, Nick “wanted to leave things in order and not just trust that obliging and indifferent sea to sweep my refuse away” (177). Particularly, Nick wanted to end his relationship with Jordan, supporting his original belief that a person should only have one romantic partner at a time. His attention to detail, in remembering Jordan after everything else that took place, demonstrates his ability to manage his own problems which contrasts the carelessness of Tom and Daisy who took no responsibility for Gatsby’s death and did not care whether anyone organized the funeral. The willingness to do what was right and not just easy emphasizes Nick’s newly gained maturity.
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