Red Badge Of Courage Summary Essay, Research Paper
Red Badge of Courage: Summary and Character Analysis
Stephen Crane has written many remarkable poems, short stories, and novels throughout
his short life (He lived only to the age of 29). The Red Badge of Courage is a tale of war,
life, responsibility, and duty. It has been considered the first “great modern novel of
war”(Alfred Kazin). It traces the effects of war on Henry Fleming, a Union soldier,
through his dreams of battle, his enlistment, and his experience through serveral battles
of the Civil War.
Henry, “the youth”, was a young man who lived on a farm with his mother. He dreamed
about what fighting in a war would be like, and dreamed of being a hero. He dreamed of
the battles of war, and of what it would be like to fight in those glorious battles. His
mother was a wise, caring woman who had strong convictions about not wanting Henry
to goto war. She is a very hardworking woman, and loves her son a great deal. She gave
him hundreds of reasons why he was needed on the farm and not in the war. Henry knew
his mother would not want him to enlist, but it was his decision to make. He dreamed of
the battles of war, and of what it would be like to fight in those glorious battles. He didn t
want to stay on the farm with nothing to do, so he made his final decision to enlist.
After a few days of marching, Henry realizes that they have been wandering about
aimlessly in circles. They continue to march wothout purpose, direction, and fighting.
During this time Henry starts to think diffrently about war, amore close experienced way.
He starts to lose some of his ideals of war, and starts to become scared of running away
from a battle. Lieutenant Hasbrouck, a young lieutenant of the 304th regiment (Henry s
regiment), is an extremely brave man. He also is constantly cursing. He, unlike the other
officers, cares about and defends his troops performance and makes sure they get the
recognition they deserve. He is a true leader and he is a model of what Henry and Wilson
wish to become.
After a while the regiment finally discovers a battle taking place. Jim gives Henry a
yellow envelope with a packet inside. He is confident that he will die, and says that this
will be his first and last battle. The regiment manages to hold off the rebels during the
first attack, but the rebels like machines of steel; relentlessly came back again and again
with reinforcements driving the soldiers back. Henry becomes scared, confused, and goes
into a trance when he sees his forces depleting. He finally gets up and starts to run like a
“proverbial chicken”, who has lost the direction of safety.
After he has run away he starts to anaylze himself and rationalize his actions. At first he
thinks himself a a coward for running, and later he feels he was just saving himself for
later. He thinks nature does not want him to die, eventhough his side was losing. He
believes he was intelligent to run, and hopes he will die in battle to spite. Henry, still
running, is met by a “tattered soldier” and he comes upon Jim who has been wounded
badly. He does not complain about his pain, but asks Henry to move him out the road so
he is not run over by artillery wagons. Even in his agony, he is concered about Henry and
asks how he is faring. As his death grew nearer, Jim runs into a field looking for a
suitable place to die. He ignores Henry s offers of help, and as his body jerked horribly,
he falls and dies. The only other witness to his death, “the tattered soldier”, is impressed
mostly by Jim s bravery and courage. The tattered soldier appears to be a simple and
innocent man. Though he is very simplistic and unsophisticated, he is a brave, kind, and
responsible man. Henry walks away hurting inside and dangerous to himself.
In the charge ahead Henry asks fleeing soldiers why they are running. He grabs a comrad
and asked “why why” all the while holding his arm. The man struggling to be let go, hits
Henry over the head with the butt of his rifle, thus giving Henry his first Red Badge of
Courage. Henry stumbles across the battle field trying to stay on his feet. He meets a
“cheery voiced man” who helps him get back to his regiment. The “cheery voiced man”
not only lacks a name, but Henry never sees his face. He appears to be a ordinary man
who can skillfully manuveur through the forest and patrols. At his regiment he meets up
with Wilson again, and gets the wound on his head tended to. After resting for a little
while he gets back into the battle. He felt the generals were a bunch of “lunkheads” for
making them retreat instead of confronting the enemy.
Henry starts to think that he and Wilson are going to die, but go into battle anyway. In the
battle a change goes over Henry. He starts to fume with rage and exhaustion. He seemed
to have a wild hate for his relentless foe. He felt that he and his companions were being
taunted and being made fun of. In a following battle, he and Wilson have the oppurtunity
to carry the regiment s flag. After a bit of scuffiling Wilson takes the flag out, but later in
the battle Henry manages to get thge rebel flag and runs up the line with Lieutenant
Hasbrouck leading the way. In the battle he fought like a “Major General”, and he has
grown up a great deal. He is not afraid of dying anymore