Term Paper on Red BAdge Of Courage

This essay has a total of 2157 words and 9 pages.


Red BAdge Of Courage





Throughout the story many settings appear, the most important one is the battlefield. The
time is 1862, which is the period of the Civil War. The story begins at dawn on a cold
morning when the army rests by campfires on some hills. As a tall soldier, who later
becomes known as Jim Conklin, washes his shirt at the river, he hears a rumor. He rushes
to tell his comrades that the regiment will move the following day. When the loud soldier,
Wilson, hears this rumor, he argues with Jim that it is a lie. While this argument is
taking place, the youthful soldier and main character in the story, Henry Fleming, is
listening attentively.

He then thinks what his reaction to fighting in battle will be. A flashback to when he
first enlisted against his mother’s wishes occurs. He remembers fantasies of glorious and
bloody wars of times past. Henry thinks that war is a courageous adventure. This
transports us to a different setting at his farmhouse. During this time, the people live a
simple life mostly based on agriculture. The youth also recalls his mother’s lecture
before departing. “She could . . . give him many hundreds of reasons why he was vastly
more important on the farm than on the field of battle” (p. 4). His mother warns him about
taking care of himself and staying away from bad companions.

His mother’s character symbolizes many different concepts. Because of the era in which the
story takes place, one can imagine that this woman is uneducated. Her farming lifestyle
implies that she is a hard-worker, especially since no father-figure is present in the
household. This image also sets an earthy, or realistic, tone contrasting with Henry’s
fantasizing. Her simple actions, such as knitting him socks, and farewell speech show her
motherly love, which represents motherhood.

In this mental setting, one learns of Henry’s emotions about his mother and his views
about war. He struggles with the idea of what his reaction will be to a real battle. The
notion that he might run penetrates his thoughts. Running would prove that he is not
courageous or heroic and that his fantasies of triumph in war are just fantasies. The more
he imagines himself fighting, the more he “. . . failed in an effort to see himself
standing stoutly in the midst of them,” them being the threats of the future attacks
(p.8). Henry’s response to the upcoming events is unpredictable, so he will wait to face
his fears.

Arguing the two soldiers enter the hut where the youth is pondering about his reactions
and emotions. The two discuss the validity of the rumor. Henry inquires Jim whether he
believes any of the soldiers will flee from the battle. Jim calms Henry when he says that
some will run but others will stay. Since the soldiers are inexperienced, their reactions
are unpredictable.

Finally, the falsity of the rumor is confirmed. Still, the youth is concerned about
whether he will be courageous in battle. “Now, with the newborn question in his mind, he
was compelled to sink back into his old place as part of a blue demonstration” (p.11).
This implies that he loses sense of his individuality among the other soldiers. An
eagerness to fight inspires him because it is the only way to prove his bravery. He
obtains comfort in his comrades, especially in the “tall soldier,” his childhood friend.

The tall soldier, Jim is an obedient private. Henry supports authority and follows orders
without questioning. He is also very confident and honest. When Henry asks him whether he
believes he will run away, Jim responds that he is not certain but that he believes that
he will stay and fight. This shows self-confidence. Jim’s character soothes Henry
believing that he could be like Jim.

When they give the order to move, all the soldiers wonder where they are going. However,
Henry thinks about the future and becomes depressed while his companions “tramped to the
tune of laughter” (p.15). The regiment is excited and speaks about victory. Henry,
however, feels alienated from the others because of his depression. He keeps a distance
from the brigade. Many thoughts cross Henry’s mind, and he starts to think that he may not
be soldier material.

The loud soldier, Wilson tries to comfort Henry and asks about his worries. “The thrill of
his enthusiasm made him walk with an elastic step” (p.17). Wilson confidently talks about
how they will defeat the opponent. He is quite sure that he will not run from the attack.
The youth questions Wilson’s confidence. Wilson becomes insulted by the discussion and
leaves Henry. Wilson leaves Henry alone in melancholy. The contrast in their views and
Henry’s lack of self-confidence just makes him feel more hopeless. He feels that he is the
only one struggling with this situation.

The scenery changes after that night. The troops cross the river and camp for the
remainder of the night. Henry is quite nervous about the move and keeps vigil while the
others rest calmly. The following morning the men arise early to march into the forest. As
the march proceeds, the soldiers begin dropping their knapsacks and other unnecessary
items to move quicker. Then they stop to rest again.

One morning the fighting begins, and Henry realizes that it is finally the time to face
his fear. The thought of running enters his mind, but his comrades surround him. He feels
that he is marching toward death. At first, Henry is curious and wants to see everything
he possibly can. He feels fascination at the sight of battle. He also discovers his first
corpse. After all the commotion is over, again he feels lonely. The youth thinks that they
are marching into a trap but does not say anything fearing that they will not believe him.
The brigade prepares trenches and is moved constantly to a new position. All this moving
stresses Henry because he is eager to prove to himself whether he is courageous or not. He
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