Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Red Badge of Courage Essay

Essay on The Red Badge of Courage

All people seem the same in many ways. They all evolve and forgo changes with experience. Henry contains human like qualities even though being a character in a novel. He lives, laughs, and breathes like anyone else. In the novel The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, the transition from youth to manhood creates a difference in Henrys courage and perception of war, yet it also obtains similar honesty beliefs.

As Henry works his was onto the battlefield for the first time, his regiment portrays him as nothing but a youth. Henry displays his youth qualities in a sense of lacking courage. His weakness exhibits as Stephen Crane writes, “The second phase has begun. It is too much. The youth throws down his riffle and runs” (194). As the rush of the opponent tests his courage, it is too much for him to handle, as he feels obligated to run showing little courage. Next Henry’s perception of war indicates his inexperience. Yet to establish himself on the battlefield, Henry, unaware of the reality of war believes it should create and opportunity for him to inspire and be recognized as a hero. “Don’t go a-thinkin’ you can lick the hull rebel army at the start . . . I know how you are, Henry.” (Crane 5) states Henry’s mother before he leaves for action. That statement displays Henrys mentality towards things without being verified of the truth. War appears to Henry as an easy time where he can take charge. Finally a youthful aspect conveys through his honesty. Henry spits out a blatant lie when he cries out, “An’ b’jiminey, I got shot-I got shot” (Crane 58). Stephen Crane shows the immaturity of a young boy through his lies. Henry’s initial behavior to war provides efficient evidence on why his regiment identifies him as a youth.



Eventually Henry progresses his advised youth into manhood. The upgrade from youth to man creates an unknown level of courage. Stephen Crane displays Henrys courageous when he writes, “Once the line encountered the body of a dead soldier. He lay upon his back staring at the sky. The youth could see that the soles of his shoes had been worn to the thinness of writing paper” (196). Henry shows courage at that time in not being afraid and realizes the death presents itself many times throughout a war. In addition to courage, Henry’s perception of war now makes him realize the unimportance of a single soul. “I don’t believe many of your mule drives will get back.” displays the lieutenant’s view of what few soldiers mean to this war (Crane 108). Henry now knows that one man cannot make such a difference in becoming a hero. Equally important, is the effect manhood has on Henry’s honesty. Though one reaches manhood, that does not mean that their honesty will now seem different. “What’s the matter Henry? Are you ok?” his fellow soldier asks as Henry refuses to answer the truth displays his honesty (Crane 141). After the final battle that day, Henry still thinks about lying about getting shot in the head and running away though he will not tell the truth. Manhood does not just come to one, he must earn it. In many ways Henry has done that.

When Stephen Crane writes the novel The Red Badge of Courage, he shows a difference as Henry goes from youth to manhood in his courage and perception of war, yet he also shows a similarity in his honestly beliefs. As Henry becomes a man his courage elevates to another level rather than when he runs away from a battle as a youth. When Henry enters the war, he believes he can perform well enough so he produces an image of a hero that can be known nationwide, but once his childish thoughts went away he realizes that one man cannot make a difference in a war of that magnitude. Though he shows many differences from youth to manhood, Henry also stays the same in ways. Henrys honesty stays completely the same as he refuses to tell the truth about the wound upon his head and him running away from battle. Henry, in this story, quickly passes through some of the natural process of growing up.

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