The Red Badge of Courage Paper

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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage, by Steven Crane, has been proclaimed one of the greatest war
novels of all time. It is a story that realistically depicts the American Civil War
through the eyes of Henry Fleming, an ordinary farm boy who decides to become a soldier.
Henry, who is fighting for the Union, is very determined to become a hero, and the story
depicts Henrys voyage from being a young coward, to a brave man. This voyage is the
classic trip from innocence to experience. The story starts out with a heated debate
between the soldiers. One boy had heard a rumor that the regiment would be moving on to
fight a battle the next day. Some of the soldiers agree with this boy, while others think
that their regiment will never partake in a real battle. While watching this argument,
Henry, the protagonist, decides that he would rather go lay down and think rather then
take part in the heated argument between the soldiers. Henry, a simple farm boy, is rather
excited when he hears the rumor that they will be fighting soon. It had always been a
dream of his to fight in a war, and become a hero, and now his dream was coming true.
Henry begins to think about what life was like before he entered the army, and remembers
the stories of war he has heard from old veterans. This flashback is very effective in
showing how his previous experiences have affected his thoughts on war now. It is
blatantly obvious that he is afraid that he will not be able to withstand the pressures of
a battle. He keeps telling himself that if he wants to become a hero, he can not run away.
He must stick out the battle with the rest of his comrades. While marching along, Henry
sees the first corpse he has ever seen. He shows pity for the man, because the dead man
had died in such poor conditions. The souls of his shoes were worn bare. When Henry sees
the corpse, he begins to wonder if his generals actually know what they are doing. He
thinks that the generals are leading him right into a trap, right into the middle of the
rebels. Henry deals with his fear of battle by acting arrogant. He acts as if he has been
in a thousand battles, and complains about the walking, even though the reader knows that
he would rather be walking forever then go to battle at this point in time. It shows one
of Henry’s defense mechanisms, how he uses his arrogance to hide his innocence.
Regiment 304 moves on to battle the next day. Henry becomes very scared, but is too proud
to talk to any of the others soldiers about his fears. All the soldiers are very anxious
to fight in the war, and Tom and Henry talk about how they are not going to run away from
war, and how they want to become big time war heroes. This is ironic, because in the end
of the book their wishes come true. When the battle starts, all the soldiers get very
anxious and nervous. Tom and Henry don’t turn out to be as brave as they think that
they could be. While hiding, Tom finds Henry, and gives him a manila envelope of letters
for his family. Tom believes that this will be his first and his last battle. Henry ends
up fulfilling his worst nightmare. Instead of sticking out the battle with the rest of his
regiment, he hides behind some brush in order to spare himself from dying. He listens in
on the battle, and to much of his surprise, he hears cheering from what’s left of
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