the red badge of courage

the red badge of courage

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A.      The Red Badge of Courage written by Stephen Crane

B.      This novel traces the effects of war on a Union Soldier named Henry Fleming.

C.     The story begins with Henry Fleming’s dreams of being a soldier, to enlistment, and then
to battle in the Civil War. His dream was to be a war hero and to be adored for his amazing
achievements. It was his decision to make, even though his mother was against the idea of going
to war. Since there was nothing happening during his monotonous life on the farm, he finally
decided to enlist.
     Ironically, even after he enlists, he finds himself sitting around. He made two new friends
named John Wilson and Jim Conklin. Wilson was as excited about going to war as Fleming, but
Conklin was confident about the success of the new regiment. Henry began to realize that his
regiment was just wandering aimlessly. Eventually, Henry began to think about the battles
differently. He started to become afraid that he might run from the fight.
     Finally when the regiment discovers a battle, Jim gives Henry a packet in a yellow
envelope, telling Henry that this will be his first and last battle. The regiment managed to hold off
the rebels for the first charge, but then the rebels came back with the reinforcements driving back
the regiment. One man attempted to flee, then another, and the situation soon began to snow ball.
Henry became scared and confused when he saw his forces losing horribly. He finally got up and
ran for cover.
     Henry started to rationalize his behavior of running from the enemy. His first impression
was that he was a coward. Later, he began to see how he saved his own life. He felt that nature
did not want him to die even though his side was losing. He believed that he was intelligent for
running and hopes that he will die in battle, just for spite. Henry then met up with Jim who
watched their acquaintance die slowly. In the next charge, Henry starts asking the soldiers why
they are running. He grabbed a fellow by the arm and asked him, not willing to let go. The man hit
Henry over the head with the butt of his gun, giving him his first Red Badge of Courage. Henry
stumbles around for a while until a cheery man comes up and helps him. At his regiment he
confronts Wilson to ask him if he needs any help with his wound. He then gets back into battle.

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His regiment, however, lost the battle, which then retreats and starts to march again. Henry is
angry with the generals for retreating and not confronting the enemy.
     Henry begins to feel that he and Wilson are going to die, but continues battling anyway.
While in battle, Henry begins to fume with rage and exhaustion. He had a wild hate for the
relentless foe. He was not going to be badgered for the rest of his life. He felt that he and his
companions were being taunted and deprived of sincere convictions that they were poor and
puny. The next time Henry and Wilson get a chance to carry their flag, they begin to argue over
who will keep it. Wilson eventually got it, though later in the battle Henry manages to get the
rebel flag. From there, he runs to the front line with the lieutenant, leading the way.
     Henry's previous dream of the glory of war was never realized. A once young and
idealistic man, he became more mature and disciplined, and a deadly instrument for warfare.



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