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The Red Badge Of Courage

The Red Badge Of Courage The Red Badge of Courage Literary Critique The Red Badge of Courage begins with the Youth (Henry) preparing to leave to war. He has fabulous ideas concocted in his mind about victory and heroism. The Youth soon finds that victory and heroism are a small part in the splendor of war. The Youth’s mind soon becomes burdened with thoughts of death and running away from battle. Sure enough, in the midst of battle, the Youth flees the battlefield. The Youth must learn to deal with the shame he feels on deserting his comrades.

When he returns to his camp he lies and says that he was separated during combat and was shot. The Youth is given another chance to fight and prove he is not a coward. As the book progresses, the Youth learns to deal with his shame by feeling honored for being a hero.In the end, the Youth becomes a man. He learns that the most important lessons in life can be seen by opening his eyes. I personally was attracted to the Youth.

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All his thoughts and wild imagination impressed me. He would describe death as a being that could swallow him whole, and ramble on about wonderful sunsets. The Youth was also a very troubled soul. He worried a lot over things he might do and not the things he would do. For instance, on page 34, he questions others in hope that their answers would comfort him.

He feels disassociated from others, The Youth, considering himself separated from the others.. (p29). Page 35 quotes, He was a mental outcast. He lacked self -confidence and continually tried to measure himself by his comrades. (p22).

Despite his sorrow, the Youth was creative and compared ideas and objects to other ideas and objects. The battle was like the grinding of an immense and terrible machine. I believe that the Youth brought the book to life through his life. At times I would find myself thinking, I’ve thought that too! For example on page 127, the Youth announces that his life should be lived to his expectations and not everyone else’s. I strongly agree with him on that idea.

When the Youth was involved in hard situations, I pondered on what I would do and what decisions I would make. To illustrate, on page 80, when the youth ran, I decided I would have stayed and fought for my dignity if nothing else. At the end of the book, Henry learns how important life truly is and why. He learned that war deals with death shame, and sorrow, not just victory and freedom. On page 266, Henry becomes a man.

He had been to touch the great death, and found, after all, it was but the great death. Henry looked death in the eyes and fulfilled his dream of becoming a hero. He had earned the Red Badge of Courage. Book Reports.

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage, by its very title, is infested with color imagery and color symbols. While Crane uses color to describe, he also allows it to stand for whole concepts. Gray, for example, describes both the literal image of a dead soldier and Henry Flemings vision of the sleeping soldiers as corpses and comes to stand for the idea of death. In the same way, red describes both the soldiers physical wounds and Henrys mental vision of battle. In the process, it gains a symbolic meaning which Crane will put an icon like the red badge of courage. Stephen Crane uses color in his descriptions of the physical and the non-physical and allows color to take on meanings ranging from the literal to the figurative.

Stephen Crane begins the novel with a description of the fields in the morning: As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors (1). The fog clears to reveal the literal green world of grass. It also reveals another green world, the world of the youth. Like school children, the young soldier tells rumors within the regiment. This natural setting provides an ironic place for killing, just as these men seem to be the wrong ones fighting in the Civil War. Stephen Crane says something on this in the narrative: He was aware that these battalions with their commotions were woven red and startling into the gentle fabric of the softened greens and browns. It looked to be a wrong place for the battlefield (26).

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Green is an image of the natural world and of the armys youth, while red in the previous quote is clearly and image of battle. In the beginning, however, Crane uses red to describe distant campfires: one could see across the red, eye-like gleam of the hostile campfires set in the low brows of the distant hills (1). Obviously, the fires are red, but Henry characterizes the blazes as the enemys glowing eyes. He continues this metaphor in the second chapter: From across the river, the deep red eyes were still peering (15). Crane then transforms this metaphor into arrogance used throughout the text: Staring once at the red eyes across the river, he conceived then to be growing larger, as the orbs of a row of dragons advancing (16). The red campfires come to represent eyes of the enemy, of dragons. The monstrous dragons are, indeed, the opposing army: the dragons were coming with invincible strides. The army, helpless in the matted thickets and blinded by the overhanging night, was going to be swallowed. War, the read animal, the blood swollen god, would have his fill (87).

The color red also describes more literal objects in the novel. Flags, emblems of each army, are frequently described in red. In the novels final battle, the youth could not tell from the battle flags flying like crimson foam in many directions, which color of cloth was winning (46). At a different point in the narrative, Henry notices flags here and there. the red in the stripes dominating(46). Gunfire, as one should suspect, is usually described in terms of red. Knife-like fire from rifles is later referred to as beams of crimson(12). Anger, although more non-physical than gunfire also seems naturally connected with the color red. At the end of the novel, Henry is ashamed of his initial shortcomings as a soldier and emits an outburst of crimson oaths(166). Perhaps these
are angry, impassionate words or perhaps they are promises regarding his courage in battle. Either way, Stephen Cranes use of red or crimson literally colors his intention for his readers. Earlier in the novel, henry is in a red ragehe wished to rush forward and strangle with his fingers. He craved a power that would enable him to make a world-sweeping gesture and brush all back. His impotency appeared to him, and made his rage into that of a driven beast(42). This red rage demonstrates the violent passion of this soldiers desire to fight. So far Crane has shown us three elements of battle: flags, gunfire, and anger. These things comprise the red monster of war. However, the most graphic and obvious thing that connects red to battle is the red blood of every soldier stands to shed. Physical injury is introduced most clearly in the novels title. Henry wishes for a wound, a red badge of courage(67). To face wounds in battle is every soldiers sentence. Henry, however, thinks that a wound will somehow bring him into true soldier-hood, and combat his youthful anxiety. He idealizes the brave veterans who he imagines have red, live bones sticking out through the slits in the faded uniforms. These images of red wounds are saved for the quick; dead men are never described in red, but rather in gray. The red badge of courage is for those who survive. Ironically, even after henrys initial injury, he does not receive the metaphorical bandage that he wants; his wound is never described in red.

In fact, Henry finds his courage in the end with out bodily injury. He avoids death in battle and dispels his fear of flight from his regiment: he had been where there was red of blood and black of passion and he was escaped(166). By the end, he had rid himself of the red sickness of battle(169). The red sickness is not an angry emotion, but rather a
fear. Red works, here, towards a new meaning. He finds courage by overcoming his fear of the red animal of war and therefore being able to face death. It had been the red sickness that had previously kept Henry from his red badge of courage. Although the acceptance of death comes with the red badge, the novel explains that death is in no way courageous. (Ms. Blackwell) While the blood of the injury and battle are red, all imagery of death is a lifeless gray. The first corpse that Henry finds, in the forest, has gray skin with little ants running over it (58). When Jim Conklin begins to show the wear of his injury, his face turned to a semblance of gray paste(69). He collapses and dies moments later. Shortly after that episode, Henry watches another die: His face was of a clammy pallor(89). Finally, Stephen Crane announces the connection between gray imagery and death: another had the seal of death already upon his face(63). Obviously, when people die their faces appear grey.

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