The Theme of Courage in Red Badge of Courage

The Theme of Courage in Red Badge of Courage

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The Theme of Courage in Red Badge of Courage



The Red Badge of Courage is a fictional psychological portrait of a young soldier named Henry Fleming, tracing the thread of his emotions and reactions to events that transpire during an unnamed battle of the Civil War (spark notes). Henry is an average farmer from New York. Henry wants to go to war and become a hero like the one he read about in his school. The story starts off with everyone sitting in regiment camp by the river with rumors flowing around. While everyone is thinking about what they will do in war, Henry was thinking of how is he going to react when he goes to the battlefields. How would he react if he was to die? He said, no matter what happens he will not run from a fight. Two of the other guys in the army had about the same courage as Henry, but none of them ever said that they will not run away. Before he can go on to fight in battle, the army puts him in a battle to see if he runs away from fight or not.


The northern army is finally put on the move and marched across the river, where they meet with Southern forces. Henry's regiment takes a reserve position, so Henry gets to see a battle before going in to an action himself. Finally his regiment drives back the enemy and Henry feels a joy of success. Then enemy charges again, but Henry flees thinking his regiment will be overrun by the enemy. As he running and trying to justify to himself why he is running.


When he gets to the woods he sees a dead man in a clearing. Henry takes the man and runs to the army's rear to get the man some help. Instead he finds his friend Jim Conkin from his regiment, who has been shot in the side. Henry tried to help Jim with another man called "Tattered Soldier." Jim could not hold on and died. After Jims death, Henry felt angry and left the Tattered Soldier alone to die in field, but it always came back to haunt Henry.


After he leaves the Tattered Soldier, he sees the enemy charging and rushes back to the union regiment.

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He asked a man walking about the charge, but instead the man hits Henry with a back of his gun. As Henry was walking to the back of the camp, he was helped by a man whose face he never got to see. While Henry was at the camp, he met another man from his regiment name Wilson and they became good friends.


The next day they went to battle where Henry and his regiments are placed by some woods and are to defend it. Henry fought so courageously that both of his commanders and fellow soldiers looked up to him. Later he heard the general talk poorly about their regiment. When they found out, they got angry and Henry got to command. Henry along with Wilson got the noncommissioned leader of his regiment by saving the flag when the color bearer was shot. Later they were told to retreat, but when the enemy attacks them. Henry defeated them and took their flag, which made him the hero.


The main character of the book was Henry Fleming. He fights among the 304th regiment even though he flees his first battle, but in the second battle he fights courageously. The book was all about the way he thought, acted and responded to the war. He also gets mature as the book progresses. Jim Conklin, also known as the tall soldier and one of Henrys friend, die in a battle and Henry was there till his last breath. There is mister who is loud and he is also Henrys friend. The author mentions Wilson's maturity by the way he takes care of Henry. Then there is the Tattered Soldier who tries to help Jim. Then there is his lieutenant whom you may call a strong, courageously man, or a person with a really bad luck. He is shot in his hand in the first battle. He got shot in the arm during the second battle and no one listen to him, so all he could do was to curse. The least amount of information is on Henry's mom. She does not want him to go, but does not try to prevent him from going.


There are many themes in this book. One of the easiest is courage. Courage is not so hard to find or think of sense it is part of the title. A great example is at the beginning of the book, Henry's understanding of courage is traditional and romantic. At the end of novel when he walks put with victory, and realizes that the courage is what you earn throughout with peoples respect and your reputation. Another theme that is easily shown is manhood.


It is shown in many places. It is shown how Henry becomes mature as the book goes further into the end. It was shown how Henry flees in the first battle, but after he saw the death of his friend and became more of a man, then he was by far more courageously fighting in the second battle.


Last, but the most important one is the universe's disregard for human life. It is well said in the book and here is a quote that Henry said, "He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death." The universe's disregard for human life is when some one is touched or inspired by somebody else, whether they are dead or alive.


One of the biggest symbols is the flag which stands for an army and their position. It also show courage, sense the person holding it must be in front of the army and can be an easy target for the enemy. The book has courage as a tone. Tone refers to the writer's attitude toward his or her subject matter. Irony involves an awareness of a contradiction between appearance and reality. Irony is evident throughout the novel in Crane's attitude toward both war and courage.


To conclude, I think the author did a great job showing courage in a nice way of a boy becoming a man due to the effects of what he experience in the war. Henry goes from a soldier that flees in the first battle to a person who becomes a role model for the rest of his regiment. I think it's a great book and anyone that has not read this, I strongly suggest you find this book and read it.


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