The Red Badge of Courage: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. Henry’s thoughts on the eve of his first battle

    “The youth had been taught that a man became another thing in a battle. He saw his salvation in such a change.” (Ch. 3, p. 37. )

  2. Henry’s naïve view of war before he enlists.

    “He had burned several times to enlist. Tales of great movements shook the land. They might not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to be much glory in them. He had read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds.” (Ch. 1, p. 16.)

  3. Henry’s observations after he has successfully come through his very first test in battle.

    “As he gazed around him the youth felt a flash of astonishment at the blue, pure sky and the sun gleaming on the trees and fields. It was surprising that Nature had gone tranquilly on with her golden process in the midst of so much devilment.” (Ch.5, p. 50.)

  4. Henry as he accompanies the procession of wounded men.

    “He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.” (Ch. 9, p. 67.)

  5. Henry justifies his cowardice by imagining that his army was facing defeat anyway.

    “A serious prophet upon predicting a flood should be the first man to climb a tree.” (Ch. 11, p. 80. )

  6. Henry’s thoughts just before he takes charge of the Union flag in battle.

    “Within him, as he hurled himself forward, was born a love, a despairing fondness for this flag which was near him. It was a creation of beauty and invulnerability.” (Ch. 19, p. 123.)

  7. Henry’s regiment reacts after they have beaten the enemy, against the odds.

    “They gazed about them with looks of uplifted pride, feeling new trust in the grim, always confident weapons in their hands. And they were men.” (Ch. 20, p. 129. )

  8. The final charge of the Union men.

    “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.” (Ch. 23, p. 141.)

  9. Henry’s thoughts as he marches with his regiment away from the scene of battle.

    “He turned now with a lover’s thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks,—an existence of soft and eternal peace.” (Ch. 24, p. 149.)

  10. Henry observing the change that has taken place in his friend Wilson.

    “He seemed no more to be continually regarding the proportions of his personal prowess. He was not furious at small words that pricked his conceits. He was no more a loud young soldier. There was about him now a fine reliance. He showed a quiet belief in his purposes and his abilities. And this inward confidence evidently enabled him to be indifferent to little words of other men aimed at him.” (Ch. 14, pp. 96-97.)

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