Flag Power in The Red Badge of Courage Essays

Flag Power in The Red Badge of Courage Essays

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Flag Power in The Red Badge of Courage

 
    Henry Fleming, after receiving his red badge of courage‹a blow to the head‹takes over the role of color-bearer during a vicious combat. As he sees his comrade sink to the ground in pain, he fights with his friend Wilson for the esteemed position of flag-bearer and finally wrenches the Union colors from the grasp of the dying man. With the flag in hand, Henry feels immediately empowered; the ubiquitous symbol of freedom and courage invests him with his own power and valiancy as he rushes headlong towards the enemy lines. Stephen Crane's continuous reference to color in The Red Badge of Courage, manifests itself outright in his few descriptions of the flag. The flag, symbolic by its very nature, invests the warriors with violent emotion as well as acting as an impetus for action, in the case of the young soldier. Crane emphasizes descriptions of the colors, the flag-bearers and the enemy's own flag to further increase the depth of feeling in the novel. Since a flag often invokes deep sentiments of nationalism, patriotism and faith, Crane's very descriptions of the flag tend to be wrought with feeling and augment a description of character.

 

As Henry Fleming's character shifts throughout the course of the novel, the symbol of the flag also has a changing effect on him. As he becomes empowered rather than terrified by the battle, the flag too impresses him in an equally more powerful manner. Before he attends his first battle, he sees the "flags, the red in the stripes dominating." Crane further describes them as splashing "bits of warm color upon the dark lines of the troops." This convivial description further effects Henry's countenance as he feels "t...


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.... Moreover, the colors of the enemy produce such a hatred, that Henry insists on holding his own flag higher and using her colors as a sign of his battle-worthy self.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Berryman, John, Stephen Crane:  A Critical Biography.  1950.  Rpt. In Discovering Authors.  Vers. 1.0. CD-ROM.  Detriot:  Gale, 1992.

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

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

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

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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