Red Badge Of Courage

Red Badge of Courage Physical and emotional pain is what the tattered solider illustrates in the book. The tattered solider pain comes from all of the horrible things associated with war. Him going crazy brings emotional pain and the physical pain is brought on by the endurances of war. “There was a tattered man, fouled with dust, blood and powder stain from hair to shoes, who trudged quietly at the youths side”. The tattered solider also characterizes the toughness people can endear. Even through the harshness of war people will find something inside of them, overcome it and not let it bother them.

The tattered solider goes out and lives through the tough endurance’s of war but he finds something inside of him to live through it. The perfect solider is what Jim Conklin brings to the book. Jim never complains about war and fights as good as the next man. Many of the people look up to Jim because he is so strong willed. The regiments almost look up to Jim in a spiritual way finding peace inside of them when they think of him. It is a tragedy when Jim dies because of all of the moral inspiration he gave the regiment. True to his character Jim dies a quiet and peaceful death not distributing any of the regiment.

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Wilson represents the two sides of human nature. In the beginning of the book Wilson is a mean tough guy that no one liked. This outward act of being tuff is just a cover of the true nature of Wilson. It is natural for people to cover their true nature in front of new faces. Towards the end of the book Wilson starts to care about Henry.

hen Henry is injured and he doesn’t try and fight the other men anymore. True to human nature once times start getting more difficult and Wilson becomes more comfortable with his surroundings he transcends into the calm compassionate person he really is. All of the characters in the Red Badge of Courage represent some aspect of man either physically or emotionally. This connection between the characters and the reader make the book true to life and more believable. Since the characters feel so real, physically and emotionally, the reader has an easier time relating to them.

Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage is the story of a young man named
Henry Fleming. The novel concerns only two days in his life and he is
a boy when the novel begins, a man when the novel ends. He enlists in
the 304th Regiment of New York Volounteers against his mother’s
wishes, and spends many boring months in training. He is sent into
battle finally. The battle of Chancellorville is the agreed upon
location where the book probably takes place. It is mentioned that he
travels along the Arappahanock River and by Richmond. The book details
historical fact of the battle. This was the closest the South ever
came to Washington D.C. and it was a very intense battle. Against a
background of battlefield trauma, Crane sets a very important battle:
the battle going on in Henry’s mind. Henry believes he is faced with
imminent death, and throws down his rifle and flees during the second
skirmish on the first day. He attempts to rationalize his actions and
becomes increasingly ashamed of himself. As he wanders in the rear of
the fighting, he encounters a dead soldier. Eventually he falls in
with some wounded men and witnesses the death of his close friend, Jim
Conklin. As a result of that, he deserts another friend dying and
runs. He wants to make a wound for himself so that he is removed from
the battle, and by accident is hit on the head by a deserter. He’s
discovered by another soldier, who helps him return to his regiment.

There he lies and says he was wounded in battle. The next day he goes
to the front again, and actually retrieves his army’s colors from the
dying flag bearer. He urges his comrads on, and is proclaimed a hero.
Crane wrote this book when he was twenty three years old, in
ten days. He had never been in battle and critics through the United
States and England could not believe that he had never seen war. His
sources were teachers athis small private school in New York State.

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The book’s genius is now regarded as an American masterpiece of
psychological writing. Unfortunately, it seems he was probably haunted
by the experience of this book and ultimately went to join the Spanish
American War. He was disqualified from fighting due to tuberculosis,
but he continued into Cuba as a reporter for Pulitzer and Hearst. He
contracted malaria there and several years later died at the age of
twenty eight.
The Red Badge of Courage is an intense inner story of
thoughts, fears and imaginings that any member of an infantry would
find. As comrads fell to the right and left, and as people were
pannicked, the chaos and confusion of kill or be killed comes forth in
simple boyish questions. He stares at corposes. He becomes obsessed
with the thought that the troops are marching into a trap and none of
the leaders know it. He wants to warn his companions. He feels stupid
and incompetent. The first battle arrives and he feels the physical
effects of fighting burning in his eyes and roaring in his ears. He
feels suffocated by the smoke of gunfire. All the soldiers and
officers are fighting in every way possible and when it stops, infront
of him, he sees everyone around him dead and the wounded crawling
away. He hears the sounds of fighting coming from everywhere and
realizes that he is surrounded by war. Crane’s language becomes
impressionistic. Henry is amazed to see “a pure blue sky and the sun
gleaming on the trees and fields.”
He then wakes up, somehow, and sees how proud he is of
himself. Suddenly the enemy reappears. The youth feels it must be a
mistake. He sees men around him running and he feels he is being left
alone to die. He turns and runs. He runs into yet another battle
where, at the edge of the forest, he feels as if he’s being kept in by
nature itself. That the branches of the trees are trying to halt his
progress. He sees his friend Jim Conklin shot through the stomach,
mortally wounded, and is told he should remove him from the battle.

Jim runs to the bushes before he dies to avoid being run over by war
wagons. Henry watches with an agony almost as great as his friend.

Henry tries to understand what Jim is thinking but cannot reach his
friend. Crane ends the chapter with the sentance, “The red sun was
pasted in the sky like a wafer.”
The soldier left behind is now dying as well, and Henry runs,
unable to confront yet another death. He is symbolically leaving his
image of a hero. His running takes him back towards a battle and
finally, just as he is contemplating some sort of wound to get him
away he is hit on the head by a coward running faster than he. He’s
very hungry, very tired and his feet ache. Now he lays in the woods
with a terrible head wound and feels he can just die. He meets a
nameless person who leads him back to his regiment. The man dissapears
as quickly as he’s come. His friends in his regiment have no idea
where he has been and yet they are so happy to see him alive that they
give him coffee, food, and put him to bed. He sleeps soundly that
night, probably from exhaustion.
The next morning, the regiment wakes up, prepares for battle.

Henry thinks he can keep his secret and goes, behaves like a real
soldier. He begins daydreaming about returning home and telling his
mother and friends wonderful stories of the war. He thinks he has
learned the truth about life, that neither bravery nor cowardice
matters if they are not noticed by others; what happens to a man is
largely governed by chance. If things go well, he can be satisfied, if
they do not, he must do the best he can under the circumstances. “In
the present,” he declared to himself, “That it was only the doomed and
the damned who roared with sincerity at circumstance. Few but they
ever did it. A man with the fool stomach and the respect ofhis fellows
had no business to scold about anything that he may think to be wrong
with the ways of the universe, or even the ways of society. Let the
unfortunates rail; the others may play marbles.”
Henry realizes that was is not what he imagined. He imagines
he had been favored by fate, that he had acted wisely the day before.

The regiment marches to relieve a command which has been fighting in
deep, dark trenches. No one can speak, the gunfire is everywhere.

Everyone is tense, worn and exhausted and they wait “like men tied to
One of their friends is shot and Henry and his good friend
Wilson go to get water. On the way they see an overview of the
battlefield and are appalled at the fury of so many men. While they
walk back, they come upon a general and the staff. They listen
secretly, and to their amazement they hear an officer refer to their
regement as a lot of mule drivers. They learn their regiment is taking
the offensive, and that to charge against the enemy means not many
will survive. They plan to tell their fellows but they don’t. They
keep it to themselves and enter the battle.
The charge begins and there is so much pushing and shoving
that Henry doesn’t comprehend that the line is moving forward. He runs
to a distant clump of trees as fast as he can. The enemy shoots, and
Henry without realizing it is leading his regiment. He moves from tree
to tree, and notices each blade of green grass and the rough texture
of the bark on the trees. Henry, with Wilson close behind, run infront
of the regiment, leading the way across the field and yelling, “Come
on!” He runs as fast as he can to avoid being hit by a bullet before
he reaches the trees. The man next to him holds the flag, and when
that man falls, Henry reaches and grabs the flag. Henry keeps the flag
and just as the enemy prepares to gather forces and attack again, the
nmen pannick. Henry walks into the mob and holds the flag up high. The
enemy attacks at close range, yet the regiment holds and repulses the
Several men run up to the two youths in the quiet and tell
them they are being cited for bravery and valor. Instead of
remembering the mule drivers, they think of themselves as heroes. Yet
another battle and the officers tell the men to charge. Henry
considers and decides that if they were to stay where they were, they
would be killed. Crane writes, “It was a blind and despairing rush by
the collection of men in dusty and tattered blue over a green sward
and under a sapphire sky toward a fence, dimly outlined in smoke, from
behind which spluttered the fierce rifles of enemies.”
Henry keeps the flag and waves it toward the front. Henry
grabs the enemy flag in the battle and is now carrying both. He gives
one flag to his friend Wilson and keeps the other one for himself.
The novel ends with Henry moving along in a group of very
weary soldier, away from the violence of battle. He smiles to himself,
“For he saw that the world was a world for him. His mind turns to
images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows and cool brooks.” The battle
is over, and ironically the men are ordered back to the spot where
they had started. He looks at his heroic deeds, puts his sins in
prospective and feels neither proud nor guilty. He is glad to be
alive. Crane ends the novel with a poetic description of the nature
surrounding the weary soldiers. The book ends with everyone in peace.
I enjoyed the book more than I had when I read it O’ so many
years ago. I believe a little experience is required to put these
things in prospective, more than a ten year old boy possesses. It is a
very complex work, under the skin of the story.


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