, Research Paper
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is a book about a young man drawn into the Civil War in America. The main character is a young man named Henry Fleming. He is very exited to go into the war, and he does so against his mother’s wishes. After Henry joins the army, he meets a man by the name of Jim Conklin. Jim is very tall and he becomes a good friend of Henry’s. Another man that becomes a friend of Henry in the story is Wilson. Wilson was loud and obnoxious to Henry, but he soon becomes helpful. The setting of the story takes place in two main places, the forest and the camp. Henry fights with the army in the forest and he learns about true war there. The camp is the base where the Union army would set up for the night. The forest is the main setting though, because Henry learns about true bravery and valor there. The first conflict of the story is when the Union regiment is about to have their first battle ever. Henry is so scared of all the gunfire and bloodshed that he runs away and deserts his regiment in the field of battle. He, and a few other soldiers hide before the battle is over.
After the battle, Henry finds his friend Jim. He walks and talks with Jim about the war until Jim dies. Henry, sad about losing one of his good friends, begins to wander around in the forest. While he is there, he meets up with another member of the Union army and begins to fight with him. During the battle, Henry gets hit with the but end of his opponents gun and starts to bleed. When it gets dark, he finds another soldier of the Union and that soldier helps him back to the rest of the regiment. Wilson comes in and helps take care of the gash on Henry’s head. In the morning, Henry does not want to run away from any more battles. After his well rest he fights with his regiment for several times that day. During every battle, Henry stayed in the front line and encouraged soldiers not to give up. He was then complimented by the Colonel, but he was still guilty that he ran off in his very first battle and deserted his regiment.
Stephen Crane’s style in the book was very short and simple. His sentences were very short, instead of being long and tedious and it was easier to follow. He doesn+t use as much figurative language as some other authors do, but he does use some figurative language. For example, he described the canopy of the forest like a cathedral when Jim died. I enjoyed his style because it made reading quick and easy. Stephen Crane used sentences like |He felt alone in a space where his injured comrade had disappeared.X (27) to describe Henry sadness as a man in battle. He also expressed death by using sentences such as, |The men dropped here and there like bundles.X (43) The climax of the novel happens when Jim dies. At that point Henry realizes that he has made a mistake when he left the battle, and deserted his friends. He then learned to fight and stand strong.
The recurring theme in this book was that Henry and his fellow soldiers weren+t the author of their actions during the heat of battle. They fought despite the risk of death not because of love for their country but for the thrill of it. They never once talked about why they fought, they just fought. Henry+s heroism wasn+t because he was truly brave, but again because of the thrill added to his anger at deserting the first time. Wilson+s change wasn+t his own but the result of the war. By himself, he never would have become the nurse he was to Henry. This theme is shown clearly throughout the book since it was always apparent in every action after the first battle.
The Red Badge of Courage shows the effect war has on man. His courage or his cowardice doesn+t stem from himself, but is given to him at the start of war by the war itself. These people, if they stopped to think about it during the battle, would have seen the stupidity in their actions. They stood there and fired at each other with people dropping like fly+s. Normally this would cause most anyone to flee but because of the war, these soldiers didn+t. The Red Badge of Courage succeeded in showing that war is not a string of heroic acts and the heroic acts are not truly heroic acts. It shows that war is war and the soldiers are still just men who can go crazy with this much stress. The book fails however at tying up the ending or really taking us into the psyche of Henry, something this book dealt much about. This book became a classic for what it succeeded in doing. It was different from other books about war by catching the actual spirit of the war. War controls. This book shows the true effect to people in war and is recommended highly.