The Red Badge of Courage. T. S t e p h e n C r a n e p. Chapter 1. HE COLD PASSED SLOWLY FROM THE EARTH, and the lifting dawn revealed an army. The Red Badge of. Courage. Stephen Crane. This eBook is designed and published by Planet PDF. For more free. eBooks visit our Web site at. The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane. Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound, a "red badge of.
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The Red Badge of Courage. By. Stephen Crane. Chapter 1. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on . a major role in The Red Badge of Courage, as well as in Crane's poetry. Many of Crane's references come directly from the Bible or from the sermons and hymns. Chapter-indexed Hypertext, E-Text for The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane.
We're set. I've got ready to move eight times in the last two weeks, and we ain't moved yet. He and the loud one came near to fighting over it. A corporal began to swear before the assemblage.
He had just put a costly board floor in his house, he said. During the early spring he had refrained from adding extensively to the comfort of his environment because he had felt that the army might start on the march at any moment.
Of late, however, he had been impressed that they were in a sort of eternal camp. Many of the men engaged in a spirited debate. One outlined in a peculiarly lucid manner all the plans of the commanding general. He was opposed by men who advocated that there were other plans of campaign. They clamored at each other, numbers making futile bids for the popular attention. Meanwhile, the soldier who had fetched the rumor bustled about with much importance.
He was continually assailed by questions. How yeh know it is? I don't care a hang. He came near to convincing them by disdaining to produce proofs. They grew much excited over it. There was a youthful private who listened with eager ears to the words of the tall soldier and to the varied comments of his comrades. After receiving a fill of discussions concerning marches and attacks, he went to his hut and crawled through an intricate hole that served it as a door.
He wished to be alone with some new thoughts that had lately come to him. He lay down on a wide bunk that stretched across the end of the room. The sound of gunfire and the sight of a dead soldier inspire panicky thoughts about the incompetence of the Union generals and the certainty that he will be slaughtered.
From the top of a ridge the regiment looks down on a smoky, noisy battle scene. Wilson, in a state of panic, entrusts Henry with a packet of letters to give to his folks if he dies. As the regiment comes under fire, the lieutenant is hit in the hand, an event that causes nervous, hysterical laughter among the men.
Henry decides that he may very well do the same. He tries to justify running by thinking of them as fools for not saving themselves. Seeing a squirrel run away from him in the woods, Henry sees flight from danger as natural. Still in the grips of self-pity and shame, Henry comes to a crowd of wounded men marching down a road. That evening he meets a cheerful soldier who offers to lead him back to his regiment.
But the soldier next to him turned and ran. Then another young man, who had struck the youth as especially brave, also threw down his gun. Watching them, the young soldier yelled and headed for the rear. He ran wildly, without looking, bumping into trees, sometimes falling down. He thought that the whole regiment was fleeing, and he raced ahead in order to keep as far ahead of the enemy as possible. They seemed to him to be fools.
Looking to one side, he saw another brigade charging into action to come to their aid. They must be fools, too. Why do you think Henry runs away? Is he a coward? Do you think as some readers do that he had no control over what he did, that he was as much an animal as the tired horse he resembled?
Or do you think he could have forced himself to stay and fight? Many readers argue over this point. Later he passed a general and tried to overhear what he was saying to the staff members who surrounded him. He half expected that the general would ask him for advice, and he would give him a piece of his mind for the stupid way he was handling things. Instead, he heard the general order one of his men to send in another regiment to support the center of the line, in danger of breaking.
But a moment later, the general jumped up in his saddle. He became like the man who lost his legs at the approach of the red and green monster He seemed to shut his eyes and wait to be gobbled. Once again Crane depicts the machinery as alive. The guns, stolid and undaunted, spoke with dogged valor. Machine-like fools!
At first he was happy, but then he began to feel annoyed. If none of the little pieces were wise enough to save themselves from the flurry of death at such a time, why, then, where would be the army? He began to pity himself, imagining the laughter when he returned to camp. Trying to get away from the sounds of battle, as well as from his increasingly bad feelings, the youth walked into a forest. But creepers caught on his legs and saplings banged into him. Afraid that all these noises would give away his position, he went deeper into the woods.
Now that he could no longer hear the sounds of battle, he felt better. The sun came out, and the insects chirped. A fair field holding life. It was the religion of peace He conceived Nature to be a woman with a deep aversion to tragedy. When the young soldier is feeling relieved to be in the forest away from the battle, he imagines nature as a woman, peaceful and comforting. This is the way some of the romantic poets and writers of the first half of the nineteenth century wrote about nature.
By the end of the century, this view was no longer widely accepted. In this peaceful place he playfully threw a pine cone at a squirrel, and the animal scurried away. This was the law of nature, the youth told himself; threatened, animals ran. He begins to think that nature forgives him. But in the beautiful forest, he passes through an unpleasant swamp, which could have told him, had he wanted to learn, that nature has more than one face.
This is not what the young soldier wants to see. In this book, written at just about the time the action in The Red Badge of Courage takes place, the English naturalist claimed that in nature, those plants and animals strongest and best adapted to the environment survive, while the weak die off. Darwin was writing about the natural world, but by the s and s other writers were applying his ideas to human society. Poor people should be allowed to die off, while the rich, who were fittest, should survive.
And labor unions were wrong, because they made weak people artificially strong, and that ran against the law of nature. When the dead man and the living one stand face to face, the youth must realize that although he can run from a battle, he cannot escape this fate.
The youth begins to run in the direction of the battle he just ran away from, because it sounds so big and so important that he thinks he ought to see it. The youth is beginning to feel ashamed of his flight. No longer does he defend it to himself as correct and intelligent. He begins to look at the experience with some distance: Maybe misguided ideas about becoming a hero serve some purpose, because they keep soldiers from deserting. Once again Crane uses the metaphor of war as a machine.
Finally he came to a road, where he fell in with a crowd of wounded men. One of them, whose shoe was full of blood, hopped up and down like a schoolboy. Another, who seemed about to die, stared straight ahead. An officer cursed the privates who were kind enough to carry him, and yelled at the crowd to make way. One of the bearers bumped heavily into the dying soldier. This dying man is called the spectral, or ghostly, soldier.
Both the man and the word play an important role in the next chapter. The sergeant teased him for his lack of sophistication, and the tattered man, embarrassed, shrank back and tried to make friends with the youth. He spoke in a gentle voice, praising the courage of the Union soldiers. Like the description of the soldiers on the eve of battle several chapters earlier, this scene shows us various types of courage, or lack of it.
But he still felt guilty about being with this group of wounded soldiers and not being hurt himself.
He came alongside the ghostly soldier, who walked stiffly, and seemed to be looking for a place to die. Suddenly the youth recognized him, and screamed: Jim Conklin! Henry tried to put his arms around his friend, but the wounded man wanted to walk on his own. But as suddenly as he had become afraid, the tall soldier seemed to forget his fears, and brushed Henry aside.
Then the tattered soldier, from whom Henry had run away in shame, came up. He told Henry that a battery was coming through, and that he ought to get the tall soldier off the road to safety. Henry led his friend into the field, when suddenly the dying man began to run. Henry and the tattered man chased him, but Jim kept begging to be left alone.
There was something ritelike in these movements of the doomed soldier. And there was a resemblance in him to a devotee of a mad religion They were awed and afraid. Henry and the tattered man realized that he had found the right place. He was at the rendezvous.
Again Henry tried to comfort his friend, and again Jim pushed him away. Then Jim began to shake. The religious imagery in this chapter is very powerful indeed.
Jim is described as spectral or ghostly, perhaps reminding us of the Holy Ghost. Like Christ, Jim has wounds on his hands and his sides.
In the first chapter Jim is the bearer of good tidings although they do turn out not to be true. The other men in the company seem to recognize his leadership. When Henry is upset about the coming fight, Jim is calm and philosophical; he comforts Henry. He does not boast like the loud soldier, but he is uncomplaining and ready to take whatever comes- including, in this chapter, death. Some people who have written about The Red Badge of Courage have called the line contrived and show-offy.
But most critics have been interested in the meaning of the image, not its source. Some think that Crane is describing the way the sun actually looks when viewed through fog or after a battle heavy smoke- red and flat, like a wafer. People who support this meaning also see Jim Conklin as a Christ figure, whose death redeems Henry.
In deciding what you think about the meaning of the last line, you might remember the last time in Chapter 5 that an episode closed with an image of the sun. Then the sun streamed down beautifully when the battle appeared to have ended. Is there any relationship between that sun and this red one?
Remember that red in this novel has always been the color of war. The first time he confronted a dead man, Henry recoiled in horror. Indeed, the sergeant in Chapter 8 laughed at him. As they begin to walk along the road, the tattered man tells how he received his wounds.
He was fighting, he recalls, and a neighbor from home, Tom Jamison, told him that he had been shot in the head. Trying to move to the rear, he was hit again, in the arm. You wanta leave me take keer of yeh, Tom Jamison. These constant questions about where the wound is located make the young soldier feel terrible, and he turns in anger on the tattered man. The tattered man may be a little ridiculous, but he is kinder than Henry. He wishes he were dead. CHAPTER 11 This chapter takes place largely in the mind of the young soldier as he tries to come to terms with his desertion and figure out what to do next.
It is an impressive psychological portrait of a man at war with himself, struggling with his guilt. The young soldier is still trying to rationalize his flight, and still harbors dreams of glory, but for the most part he recognizes what he has done.
As he walks along he alternates between hope and despair, self-justification and self-hatred. Seeing retreating wagons, teams, and men, Henry comforts himself; if everyone is retreating, he is not so bad. But then he sees a column of infantry marching proudly forward, and he wonders what made them so brave.
But then he realizes how hard it would be. He has no rifle.
Well, the fields are full of abandoned rifles, he could pick one up. He could never find his regiment. Well, he could fight with any regiment. If he returned, his comrades would realize that he had previously fled. No, they would not see his face in battle. Drained and paralyzed by these conflicts, he realizes that he is hungry, thirsty, and sore.
Of course, he hoped for a Union victory. At the same time, he realized that a defeat might vindicate him. He wanted desperately to be proved right. Again he wished that he were dead. But in the end he could not really hope for the defeat of the Union army.
He imagined them laughing and pointing at him. Surrounded by running soldiers, the youth kept trying to find out what was going on. Finally he clutched one of the soldiers by the arm, and refused to let go. Angry and panicked, the man hit the young soldier fiercely on the head with the butt of his rifle. The youth saw lightning and heard thunder.
He fell down. He was afraid to pass out in the middle of the field, because he might be in danger there. He remembered meals his mother cooked, and thought about the old swimming hole. He threaded the mazes of the tangled forest Obstacles fell before him The man with the cheery voice grasped his hand warmly, and wishing him good luck, walked off. Who is this mysterious man? Is it only the young soldier who thinks he possesses magical powers, or are we, too, supposed to see him as somewhat supernatural?
It is ironic that when the youth finally receives a wound, a red badge of courage, it is inflicted by the butt- not the barrel- of a rifle, and by a retreating soldier in a panic. The young soldier is wounded by a man very much like himself. He falls to the ground, seeing lightning and hearing thunder, almost like a revelation. In addition, the image of the young soldier learning to stand like a baby indicates that he may be beginning all over again.
The young soldier carries himself carefully, as the tall soldier did when he was wounded. The man with the cheery voice who befriends him talks about different kinds of courage. This chapter contains striking descriptions of the chaos of the retreat, as well as some by now familiar imagery: He thought briefly about trying to hide, but he was too hungry and tired.
The sentry- the loud soldier, Wilson- who had given Henry up for dead, was delighted to see him. The young soldier hurriedly concocted a story about where he had been. Wilson called the corporal, Simpson, to take care of Henry.
When Simpson leaves him, promising to send Wilson over, Henry looks around. There, hiding from his shame, the young soldier entered a cathedral-like space streaming with sunlight. In the forest cathedral he had seen the decaying soldier propped up against a tree. Here the description is similar, but the mood is very different. Staring across at the young soldier is another man propped up against a tree, but he is only sleeping.
Does this suggest that the young soldier encountered horror when he was running away, but that when he returns to his responsibilities the scene is drained of horror? The young soldier is welcomed warmly back into the fellowship of the regiment; Wilson treats him extremely kindly. More kindly, in fact, than is consistent with his character as we have seen it in earlier chapters. He is like them because he is sleeping wrapped in a blanket, but does Crane mean that he is now one of them again, as brave as they are?
Does that no longer matter? Or is Crane, in this sentence, being ironic? Wilson helped the young soldier to dress his wound and get some breakfast. Wilson was a clumsy nurse, and when the youth snapped at him, he apologized quietly. An enormous change seemed to have come over Wilson, the young soldier reflected. He showed a quiet belief in his purposes and his abilities The youth wondered where had been born these new eyes His growth parallels that of the young soldier.
It seems as if Wilson is almost a new person. What do you think might have happened to change him so? Does it seem possible to you that someone would become so different after only one day of fighting?
Now that both he and his secret are safe, he begins to take pride in the events of the previous day, seeing himself as brave and manly. Some soldiers ran away in terror; he fled with dignity.
He realizes that much of what happens in battle is by chance, and that you can get away with a lot. Most of the familiar imagery in this chapter is likewise ironic. The young soldier realizes that he will be able to go home with a fine fund of war stories. Is Crane being ironic here?
Or has the young soldier really learned a kind of courage? Instantly the young soldier is terrified: Before the first battle he had been preoccupied with the question of whether he would run from fire although he also complained to Jim Conklin about the commanders. Shame and fear shut him up for awhile, but soon he begins to grouse again.
The young soldier is still struggling with himself. But, interestingly enough, Crane describes his heroism almost entirely in terms of animals. The religious imagery in this chapter backs up this idea.
At the end of this chapter the sun again appears. The death of Jimmie Rogers, thrashing about in the grass, reminds us of the similar death of Jim Conklin, although Jim did not scream the way Jimmie does. The descriptions of the deaths of Jim Conklin and Jimmie Rogers do not seem all that horrible to us. We see worse every time we go to the movies or watch the news on TV.
But death had never before been described this realistically in an American novel. Many readers at the time were shocked and disturbed by passages like this.
The young soldier has overheard officers twice before. He had heard him send in reinforcements, and express delight that the center had held while he bounced around in his saddle.
The encounter with the general in this chapter is slightly different. And what he hears is even more disillusioning than the exchange about the cigars.
Neither the officer nor the general seems to care that many men of the th will die in the coming assault. Apparently, the other had now climbed a peak of wisdom from which he could perceive himself as a very wee thing. The theme of understanding things better and seeing more clearly is pursued in several ways. Because Henry and Wilson leave the fighting in which they have up until now been engaged, they are able to see the layout of the whole battle. The narrator makes a number of statements in this chapter, most of them about this frenzied fighting.
Previously the narrative voice has described only characters- usually a bit ironically- not actions. The major battles of the Civil War, such as Chancellorsville, consisted of many small skirmishes like the ones Henry participated in.
As we see in these chapters, the blue soldiers and the gray soldiers engage, retreat, rest, and clash again. Eventually one group or the other wins, and the battle is over. Even during World War II that was what war was like. But in our day war has become very different. There may not be fixed battles where a line of soldiers charges, but the constant sniping of guerillas instead.
What would it mean to be courageous in a modern war? CHAPTER 20 In this part of the battle the young soldier acts extremely bravely, trying to halt the retreat by encouraging the men, and then by raising the flag high. The images are all somewhat familiar. Some part of the woods needed sweeping, perhaps, and he merely indicated a broom in a tone properly indifferent to its fate. But to their surprise, the veterans who were waiting there made fun of them.
As the youth looked around, he realized that they had not in fact covered much ground, and that the engagement had not lasted very long.
He was annoyed at his comrades, although he took pleasure in the way he had conducted himself. The general who had called them mule drivers galloped up, and began to yell at Colonel MacChesnay. The lieutenant insisted to the colonel that the boys had put up a good fight, but the colonel brushed him away. Fleming and Wilson were talking together when another soldier came up to tell them that Lieutenant Hasbrouck had praised them both to the colonel.
The two delighted friends thought that both the colonel and the lieutenant were terrific.
As the flag bearer, the youth observed the next phase of the battle almost as a spectator. He saw two regiments slugging it out together as if they were playing a game; another regiment marched proudly into the woods, made an enormous racket, and marched just as proudly out.
This is the language we have come to recognize. In this comparison of the battle to a sea, Crane suggests that war is a force of nature. The enemy soldiers took shelter behind a fence, and the regiment battered against it. Many of them remembering that the general had called them mud diggers tried especially hard to get rid of the Confederates. The youth imagined his dead body in the middle of the field as proof to the general that the regiment had fought well.
The regiment seemed to be foundering. All display the frenzy, enthusiasm, and unselfishness praised by the narrator in Chapter This is also a chapter of vivid color. One nursed a wounded foot, and swore at the blue soldiers as if someone had stepped on his foot accidentally.
Another, a young boy, seemed composed, and talked cheerfully with his captors. The attitudes of these Confederate prisoners greatly resemble those of the Union soldiers, a closing irony. In Chapter 3 he seemed to want to ask a question of the dead soldier in the yellow suit.
In Chapter 7 he exchanged a long look with the dead soldier in the forest. Someone praises the young lieutenant: As he has all along, Smithers is malingering, acting like a coward. Henry had been afraid that the other soldiers would laugh at him if they found out the story of his flight.
Smithers laughs at himself; his cowardice is not a terrible shame. The nature imagery with which the chapter ends supports the message of redemption carried by the religious imagery. The specific Civil War battle that is recounted in the novel is A. Stephen Crane refrains from naming many of his characters in order to A. I and II only B.
When the veterans told stories of war, Henry A. When Henry heard that his regiment would be going into combat, he asked A. Some critics suggest there is religious symbolism in A. After the first bloody battle, Henry was A.
Prior to the first battle, Henry was A. What is the meaning of the title, The Red Badge of Courage? What is the meaning of courage in this book? How does the character of the young soldier change in the course of the novel? What is the role of nature in The Red Badge of Courage? Why or why not? When Henry deserted the battle and fled, his fears A. As Henry marched along with the wounded soldiers, he A. The truly amazing thing about Jim Conklin was A. Henry distinguished himself from others who had deserted the battle, thinking that A.
When Wilson had expected to die, he A. Henry overheard one of the generals referring to his men in a derogatory fashion as A. Henry and Wilson won praise for A. What role does the loud soldier play in the novel? Is The Red Badge of Courage a naturalistic novel?
Or is it about any war, or even any battle with yourself? By it he means a wound. He wishes he had one so that he would look like, and be, a real soldier. He thinks that being wounded in battle proves that you are courageous. But when Henry is actually wounded in Chapter 12 it is by accident. He is hit on the head by a Union soldier in panic-stricken retreat.
Neither Henry nor the soldier who wounds him has been courageous. They believe that he has been fighting with another regiment, even though the lump on his head looks like just what it is. And even Henry begins to pretend to himself that he has been courageous after all.
Ironically, when Henry shows real courage in battle, in Chapters , he is not wounded. The real badge of courage is inside, and the proof of courage is deeds. The title tells us that this book is about the difference between what courage looks like and what it really is.
To understand the meaning of courage in this book, look at the behavior of characters who are courageous. One of these is Jim Conklin, the tall soldier.
Before the battle in Chapter 3 he is not afraid that he will run away, and he expects to do what the rest of the regiment does. He follows orders and remains calm. Henry, in contrast, is very frightened. In Chapter 9 Jim faces death matterof-factly. He does not complain about his wounds.
He does what has to be done. He is in a frenzy, like an animal or a savage. During the final charge in Chapter 23 the whole regiment behaves this way.