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 his regiment. He then takes
off into the woods in anger. While running through the woods his conscience
begins to speak to him. His conscience calls him a coward, and a deserter. Out
of guilt, Henry runs back to the battle site, and meets again with his regiment.

These actions showed Henry’s maturity, and desire to be a war hero. When Henry
meets up his regiment and older tattered man begins to have a discussion with
him. The old man asks Henry "where yeh hit, ol’ boy?" meaning, where he
got shot. With massive feelings of guilt, Henry shrugs away from the man and
runs back into the woods. From behind a tree, he looks at all the wounded
soldiers. "At times he regarded the wounded soldiers