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Red Badge of Courage


The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane traces the effects of 
war on a Union soldier, Henry Fleming, from his dreams of soldiering, 
to his actual enlistment, and through several battles of the Civil 
War. Henry Fleming was not happy with his boring life on the farm. He 
wanted to become a hero in war and have girls loving him for his 
glorious achievements in battle. He knew his mother would not like to 
see him go to war, but it was his decision to make. He dreamed of the 
exiting battles of war and the thrill of fighting glorious battles. He 
didn't want to stay on the farm with nothing to do, so he made the 
final decision to enlist.

 After enlisting he finds himself just sitting around with 
nothing to do. He manages to make friends with two other soldiers, 
John wilson and Jim Conklin. Wilson was as exited about going to war 
as Henry, while Jim was confident about the success of the new 
regiment. Henry started to realize after a few days of marching, that 
their regiment was just wandering aimlessly, going in circles, like a 
vast blue demonstration. They kept marching on without purpose, 
direction, or fighting. Through time Henry started to think about the 
battles in a different way, a more close and experienced way, he 
started to become afraid that he might run from battle when duty 
calls. He felt like a servent doing whatever his superiors told him.

 When the regement finally discovers a battle taking place, Jim 
gives Henry a little 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 
like machines of steel with re-enforcements, driving the regement 
back. One man started to flee, then another, and another still. Henry 
was scared, confused, and in a trance as he saw his forces depleating. 
He finally got up and started running like a proverbial chicken, who 
has lost the direction of safety.

 After running away, Henry started rationalizing his behavior 
after running from the enemy. At first he fells he was a stupid
coward for running, then he feels he was just saving himself for 
later. he felt nature didn't want him to die, eventhough his side is
losing. He believes he was intelligent for running and hopes he will 
die in battle just for spite. The same time Henry met Jim, he also met 
a tattered man. In the next charge, Henry and the tattered man see Jim 
die a slow, and painful death. After Jim's death, and a little 
talking, Henry,though not realizing it, leaves the tattered man alone 
on the battle field, hurting inside, and dangerous to himself.

 In the charge ahead, Henry starts asking the soldiers why they 
are running. He grabbed a comrad by the arm and asked the man "why- 
why-" not letting go of the mans arm, so the man hit Henry over the 
head with the butt of his rifle, giving Henry his first Red Badge of 
Courage. Dazed, Henry stumbles around the battle field struggling to 
stay on his feet, until a cheery man comes around and helps Henry to 
get back to his regement. At his regiment he confronts wilson and has 
his wound on his head attended to. After a short rest he again gets 
back into battle. After the regiment lost that battle, the generals 
had the regiment marching again. Henry felt the generals were a lot of
"lunkheads" for making them retreat instead of confronting the enemy.

 Henry begins to feel that, he and Wilson, are going to die, but 
goes to battle anyway. In battle, Henry began to fume with rage and 
exhaustion. He had a wild hate for the relentless foe. He was not 
going to be badgered of his life, like a kitten chased by boys. He 
felt that he and his companions were being taunted and derided from 
sincere convictions that they were poor and puny. In yet another 
battle, when Henry and Wilson get a chance to carry their flag, they 
fight over who will retain the flag. Wilson got the regement flag, 
though later in battle Henry manages to obtain the rebel flag. And 
from there, runs to the front of the line with the Liutenant, leading 
the way. In battle he fought like a "Major General", though he did 
regret leaving the tattered man alone on the battle field, he has
grown-up, and is not afraid of dying anymore. 


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