Red Badge of Courage

Red Badge of Courage

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1.     Discuss the novel as a psychological journey. Discuss how Henry Changes throughout the novel. What causes him to change? Henry Fleming is a young solider fighting for the union army during the civil war. Throughout the war Henry ventures on a long psychological journey to discover himself. Often referred to as “the youth” Henry comes into battle with the naïve fantasies of being a war hero with out ever having faced a single battle, making him extremely self centered and vein. His desires to be heroic are far from noble but are based solely on the desire to be accepted and admired by men. He is motivated only by the idea of being immortalized among men and really holds no sense of right and wrong. Many times he justifies his coward ness by saying that the other men are not “wise enough to save themselves from the flurry of death.” And somehow restores his own self pride. He convinces himself every time that his lies are truth. But mid way through the novel Henry finally faces battle and the turning point of the novel occurs, because Henry fights, he no longer cares about himself but is part of the bigger picture he is a vital part of the “fighting machine”. As Henry forgets about the immature fantasies of a reputation he begins to earn one and quite a good one. Many of the officers are even offering their compliments and praise. Henry’s character comes full circle when he let go of his earlier mistakes and abandons the hope of a great heroism and trades it all for the more gratifying understanding of what it is to be a man.

2.     Discuss the religious imagery in the novel. How does Crane’s background influence his opinon What point is he making? The is tons of religious imagery. The most obvious is Jim being portrayed as Jesus Christ his initials are even JC and in his death he even depicts him with the “piercing” on his side and his blood covered hands. Crane was probably most influenced by his father who was a Methodist minister.

3.     How is the novel an example of Realism? Give specific ezamples that show the novel as a realistic novel. What descriptions of battle make the novel realistic? By definition
realism is, “understanding of nature of real life: a practical understanding and acceptance of the actual nature of the world, rather than an idealized or romantic view of it”.

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The novel is an example of realism through its realistic perspective of many issues and it’s graphic portrayal of battle. We see this time and time again for example,
     “ The little flames of rifles leaped from [the clump of trees]. The song of the bullets was in the air and shells snarled among the tree-tops. One tumbled directly into the middle of a hurrying group and exploded in crimson fury. There was an instant’s spectacle of a man, almost over it, throwing up hands to shield his eyes. Other men, punched by bullets, fell in grotesque agonies. The regiment left a coherent trail of bodies.” (135)
and again when he says, “ The orderly sergeant of the youth’s company was shot through the cheeks. Its supports being injured, his jaw hung afar down, disclosing in the wide cavern of his mouth a pulsing mass of blood and teeth. And with it all he made attempts to cry out. In his endeavor there was a dreadful earnestness, as if he conceived that one great shriek would make him well.” (160)

4.     How is the novel an example of Naturalism? Define naturalism. Give examples from the novel that make it naturalistic. The dictionary refers to naturalism as, “a movement or school advocating factual or realistic description of life including its less pleasant aspects.” Naturalism portrays man in his most animalistic characteristics the instincts we use for survival. Constantly though out the novel Crane makes references to how man is like an animal. For example when he says that Henry is like a “proverbial dead chicken” or when the armies “roar” or when Henry “fights like a wild cat” all examples of humans using their animal like instincts which makes this novel an example of naturalism.

5.     Define Impressionism. How is the novel an example of Impressionistic writing?
By definition it is the concentration on the general tone and affect of a subject. This novel is an example of this because we see only what Henry sees we are painted a general picture only by Henry’s view on war and the impressions that he gets we are not given an details but rather just enough to leave an impression and to understand.

6.     Discuss Crane’s background including the writing of The Red Badge of Courage.
Crane was born into a family of 14 other children and the son of a Methodist preacher. He grew up in New Jersey were he had a pretty normal childhood except for the death of his father, 1 sister and one brother. At 17 when to military school. His hobbies were baseball, poker, and swearing. Learned about being a soldier and got others opinions. Then spent a year at Lafayette College and one a Syracuse University. Here he enjoyed football as well. His first book was Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. The Red Badge of Courage was written in order to win a bet he made that he could write a book in ten days on a subject he had no first hand experience with. (he won that bet)

7.     Discuss Crane’s use of nature. Specifically discuss how nature responds to Jim Conklin’s death and the response of nature after the battle. Each time nature appears in the novel it displays an attitude of indifference to anything to do with human affairs. Specifically after Jim’s death when Henry is making a speech he is interrupted by a description of the uncaring sun “pasted in the sky like a wafer.” (74) After his first encounter with battle he notes nature by saying “that nature had gone tranquilly on with her golden process in the midst of so much devilment.” (47) And we are again remind of natures uncaring attitude on (127) “ A cloud of dark smoke, as from smoldering ruins, went up toward the sun now bright and gay in the blue, enameled sky.” Over and over we are reminded of how nature does not concern itself with the affairs of man.

8.     Discuss the historical accuracy of the novel. What battle is it based on? What hints does Crane give where the reader knows which battle the novel is about? Crane’s objective when writing this book was not to give a history lesson on the civil war actually the reader must know that he is talking of the civil war because he never actually states that in the novel. This enables the story to be one not only of this specific battle but of war in general. The battle in the novel is based on the Battle of Chancellorsville. This can be inferred early on by details such as the date, the strategy of crossing the river, circling behind enemy line, and the pontoon bridges. But the most obvious is the quote in 16 stating “All quiet of the Rappahannock” when we are given a specific setting.

9.     Discuss Crane’s view on war. How does the reader know what Crane’s views are? Why does he never specifically discuss the war? Quite bluntly Crane views war as stupid. Most obviously because it is two sets of men both alike fighting against each other. This is most blatantly stressed in chapter 23 when he gives a description of the four prisoners. The fist curses the regiment, the second talks to them with great interest, the third stares stoically into space, and the last is completely ashamed to have been captured. It is here that the reader sees how similar the soldiers on both sides of the battle are and that the men are fighting other men just like themselves so really what is the point to this battle? Crane never specifically discusses war because he has no fist hand experience with it and it would limit him to making the story solely about one battle where this way he can make it a generalization of all war.

10.     Discuss the characters in the novel what is each character symbolic of?
There are 7 specific character to discuss. The first is Jim “the tall soldier” also portrayed as the religious figure in the book, with his initials being J.C. many people see him as a Jesus figure, even his death depicts this with the “piercing” in his side and his blood covered hands.
Next is Wilson who is introduced to us as the “loud solider” because of all the bragging and loud talking he does but we discover later when faced with battle he is actually a coward but by the end of the novel after having faced war Wilson is turned into a gentle kind and caring person and is now referred to as “the friend” Next is “the tattered solider” who is easiest to describe as Henry’s conscience. He has been shot twice and is extremely injured. Henry leaves him to die and throughout the entire novel Henry is haunted by this guilt. Next is “the cheery voiced solider” this particular character “has no face” but leads Henry back to his regiment after falling astray. Many view this character as a heavenly being or and angel maybe. Next is Lieutenant Hasbrook he is a youthful officer who swears constantly to encourage his men. Henry and the lieutenant discover a sympathy for each other and work together to motivate the men. The last but most important is Henry Fleming or “the youth” at the beginning Henry standing untested by war questions his own courage but has the story continues he has to face the truth about himself and discover the sad truth of his own insignificance. He is extremely vein and usually lies to himself to rid himself of his guilt but from battle to battle he comes to grasps with reality and what it takes to thrive as a solider.

11.     Discuss the theme of illusion vs. reality.
The first part of the novel is in the form of illusion. We are painted a picture of this type of war by viewing war through the niave eyes of young Henry Fleming. He sees war as chance to immortalize his name and gain a great reputation and picture that will soon be shattered by the unforgiving realities of war. As he matures through the book we begin to see a war based on reality one of blood, gore, and death.
12.     Discuss the color symbolism. Give examples of color imagery.
The color symbolism is continues through out the entire book. The most common ones are blue which symbolizes strength, red which is symbol of fear or death, yellow symbolizes fear and coward ness and purple symbolizing hope. Some good examples of this are “ They were going to look at war, the red animal-war, the blood-swollen god.” (29), “A glaring fire wine-tinted the waters of the river.” (24) , “ From this little distance the many fires, with the black forms of men passing to and fro before the crimson rays, made weird and satanic effects.” (20) , ”red rage” “red sickness”

13.     Discuss Crane’s views on religion. Give examples that support his views. How is this a story of Christian redemption? Crane comes from a very religious family and it is not surprising that he might incorporate some of those views in his writing. It is pretty clear the Jim is to be the Christ like figure in the book his initials are JC and his death has many Christ like symbolism. This story could be viewed as Christian redemption in that Henry could be like man who is lost searching for the acceptance of man but is not truly happy until the find Christ which for Henry was finding his man hood.

14.     Give examples of animal imager. What point is Crane making?
Man is portrayed many times through out the novel as an animal for example Henry is referred to as a “wild cat” the regiment is referred to as “ mule drivers” by the officers and Henry says “ the regiment snorted and blew. Among some stolid trees it began to falter and hesitate.” I think Crane is making the point that in war men are like animals forgetting all the “ways of humans” but resorting to their animal like instincts.
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