Common Application Essay

Character Analysis in The Red Badge of Courage

Date of publication: 2017-07-08 22:41

A former intelligence officer is tasked by the heir to the Gleneyre estate to investigate the unusual deaths of a disparate group of eleven men on a list.

The Red Badge of Courage Chapters 5-8 Summary and Analysis

The shallowness of Henry's heroism is overwhelmingly obvious--Henry didn't even realize that he was being heroic he has to be told that he was acting like a "barbarian." The irony is that Henry has aspired to be recognized for his bravery--now that his dream has come true, he's too dissociated to enjoy it, and disappointed by how "easy" it was. Henry is still very much a immature man, but here he learns yet another lesson about the nature of courage and heroism.

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The Tattered Man, we come to see, is an externalization of Henry's own guilty conscience. Just as Henry comes to despise himself for his own lack of courage during the battle, the Tattered Man continues to "attack" Henry with probing questions that reiterate Henry's cowardice. Henry desperately wants to be perceived as a brave man by his fellow troops, but the Tattered Man's questions suggest that Henry is a long way from being celebrated for his bravery. Ironically, Crane describes the the Tattered Man's questions in harsh, militaristic language ("knife thrusts," "arrows")--even though Henry has fled from the literal battle, he's entered into a metaphorical "battle" for recognition.

Red Badge of Courage Study Questions & Answers

Crane contrasts Wilson's savage exultation with the pain and misery of the dying flag-bearer. War is a zero-sum game: for every victory that one soldier savors, another soldier is murdered. Wilson, overcome with enthusiasm for his fellow soldiers and his cause, doesn't stop to notice the dying soldier. He seems to have no respect for the soldier's humanity--after all, the soldier is his enemy, a faceless being he's been taught to hate. In encouraging soldiers to pursue glory and heroism, Crane suggests, war forces soldiers to surrender their natural sympathy for other human beings.

He thinks of his comrades, dressed in blue. They won. The thought makes him bitter. He, the enlightened one, had fled because of his greater perception. They would not see it like that, however. He thinks about the derisions and insults he will have to bear upon returning to his regiment. He pities himself, as if an injustice against him was committed.

The horrors of war are so vast that Henry has needed to believe in the fairy tales of courage and chivalry--if he didn't have beliefs to comfort him, he could have been crushed under the sheer terror of the Civil War. Now that Henry is a more experienced soldier, he's coming to recognize the war for what it really is--a chaotic, "whirring" storm, both huge and meaningless.

Paradoxically, in denying his own importance, Henry rises to true maturity: he becomes a man. Critics have often debated whether or not Crane intended the passage to be ironic or not--Henry's acceptance of his own smallness could certainly be interpreted as cynical or resigned, but here it's also portrayed rather optimistically, as he thinks of his future. Perhaps Crane's real point is that, good or bad, accepting one's personal limits is a "coping mechanism" to which all soldiers must resort sooner or later. 

96. Confederate Dead behind the Stone Wall of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, VA (killed during the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 6868)

The Red Badge of Courage focuses on the moral world of a man in the Union Army, Henry Fleming. He has deserted his regiment in the clash and horror of battle, deluding himself with specious arguments of self-preservation, only to discover that his group has won the day. He finds himself among the wounded, and they treat him as though he is wounded himself, which fills him with shame at his cowardice and desertion. He goes back to his comrades, vowing to cleanse himself through bravery in battle. He redoubles his assault on the Confederate foe, grasping the standard of battle from a dying man and carrying it bravely forward. At last, his conscience is clear, and his self-inflicted wound of cowardice has been healed.

Henry's analogy between himself and a chemical sample is unnerving because it suggests that Henry doesn't respect himself as a full human being: he's content to be a mere cog in the army, ordered around by his superiors. He's so and immature that he takes no responsibility for his own actions--he's just waiting for the right stimuli to control his behavior. At the same time, his detachment from his own sense of courage shows a kind of maturity, or at least a willingness to question himself relatively impartially.

On this day in 6966, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union goes on strike at Ford plants across the country to win higher wages and better benefits for its members. It was the first company-wide strike since Ford had agreed to a collective-bargaining deal in 6996. Ford had been the.

With the admission of Iraq into the League of Nations, Britain terminates its mandate over the Arab nation, making Iraq independent after 67 years of British rule and centuries of Ottoman rule. Britain seized Iraq from Ottoman Turkey during World War I and was granted a mandate by the League of.

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