Red Badge Of Courage: The Sun Essay, Research Paper
In The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane uses the sun to symbolize the growth and enlightenment of Henry Fleming as well as the hope of the soldiers. The sun along with nature was used to show the hopes and fears of Henry and his regiment.
Stephen Crane uses the sun to emphasize the fear and triumph that the youth and his regiment feel. In the eastern sky there was a yellow patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun (pg.25). This represents the fear of the battle that Henry and the other soldiers felt as they could see the enemy coming towards them. The yellow path in front of the sun symbolizes the cowardice that Henry felt as the battle neared. The path of the sun could also represent the enemy coming up the path towards Henry, which is what cause his fear. As the enemy got closer, Henry began to feel more relaxed, but at the same time more afraid of the battle. When the sunrays vanished at last struck full and mellowingly upon the earth, the youth saw that the landscape was streaked with two long, thin, black columns which disappeared on the brow of a hill in front and rearward vanished in a wood. (pg.26-27) Henry could finally see what he was going to be fighting in this battle and therefore was not afraid of what was to come. He didn t have to wonder who was coming towards them anymore, but his fear of battle was still there. The sky overhead was of a fairy blue. (pg. 27) This is foreshadowing the outcome of this first battle. It shows that they would win this battle and everything was going to work out for them. After Henry decides to run, he is very ashamed of himself, but yet he is glad that he ran. So he went far, seeking dark and intricate places The Sun suddenly apparent, blazed among the trees. (pg. 59) Henry at this point was trying to hide in dark places to get away from the war and his self because he was ashamed of what he did. The sun appears and is a symbol to him that life will still go on and helps him to forget what he did and to move on. While the sun is out, Henry seems to forget about all of his fears of the war. The sun sank until the slanted bronze rays struck the forest There was silence save for the chanted chorus of the trees A crimson roar came from the distance The youth stopped. He was transfixed by this terrific medley of noises. (pg. 61-62) As soon as the sun went down, everything in nature seemed to change and therefore, the youth s fears came back and he no longer knew what lay ahead. He didn t know what was happening in the battle and that scared especially since he could not see it. Immediately when the sun came up, the youth s fears seemed to disappear and he finally began to realize what war was really about. In the morning after the battle, the youth went to the battlefield and saw the many corpses that lay there. A hot sun blazed upon the spot. The sun blazing down on the corpses showed the youth the tragedy that war caused. This scene enlightened him to the reality of war and helped him to become a man. The sun also showed the triumph of the war. As another officer sped his horse after the first messenger, the general beamed upon the earth like a sun. This represents the triumph that the regiment felt when they held the enemy in battle. This showed the youth the glory that he was looking for in war. Henry was in the war to become a hero and feel that glory that he had always dreamed about. After he ran, he thought he would never reach that. The separation was as great to him as if they had marched with weapons of flame and banners of sunlight. He could never be like them. Here, Henry was admiring an officer s confidence and power that he so longed for, but thought he would never reach. He felt as if he was not worthy of them because of his running from battle and because he was afraid.
The sun also represented what kept the regiment going when they didn t think they could and the peacefulness of nature. 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. (pg. 50) Henry had already gone through his first battle and was noticing that nature was not affected by the war. Everything went on just the same and this gave him a feeling of peacefulness. She re-enforced his argument with proofs that lived where the sun shone. (pg 60) Nature and the sun represent life to the soldiers. The sun gives them reassurance that there is life after the war. The war to many of the soldiers was considered hell. The red sun was pasted in the sky like a wafer. (pg. 72) This is referring to a wafer that would be given at communion in a church. War to them was like hell, but the sun was something constant. It was something that they knew would always be there, just like their religion would always be there for them. They still had their faith no matter where they were. Eventually, Henry and his regiment get to go home. The very last sentence of the novel describes how Henry has changed throughout the novel. Over the river a golden ray of sun came through the hosts of leaden rain clouds. (pg. 149) Henry s soul has changed from the beginning of the war. He feels that he is finally rid of the red sickness of battle. The sun is the peace that he has been reaching for throughout the war.
The symbolism used in this novel shows the changes that Henry went through throughout the war. At the beginning of the novel, he didn t know the reality of war and only wanted to be a hero. After his first battle, he realized he was totally wrong and then he decided to run. The symbolism of the sun in this novel shows the fears that he had and that he was trying to hide. Without the symbolism, the reader would not know how ashamed Henry was of himself or how afraid he really was. The symbolism in this novel also showed what the soldiers had to look forward to and that war isn t always terrible.
The sun played a big part in showing the growth of Henry throughout the war. It brought out his fears and also gave him hope for the end of the war. The sun also enlightened him about the reality of war. The sun tells the story of his growth.