How does Henry Fleming emotionally develop throughout The Red Badge of Courage?
I. Introduction - Description of Henry Fleming
II. Support #1 - Naivety and Fear
III. Support #2 - Cowardice
IV. Support #3 - False Heroism and True Courage
V. Conclusion - Four Stages of Henry's Growth
Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage is a novel that depicts the emotional journey of a young man named Henry Fleming. Crane goes into little detail about Henry and his background, usually only referring to him as "the youth" or "the young soldier." Crane's vague description of Henry can identify him with any young man experiencing war for the first time. We do know, however, that Henry grew up on a farm in New York State. His father apparently died while he was still a child, leaving his mother to raise him single-handedly. We also know that Henry's life has been particularly quiet and protected, which we can gather from his mother's advice to him before he sets off for the army.
Henry desires to sign up for the army because he is excited by the idea of being a hero, even though he knows that his mother wants him to stay on the farm. Henry's immaturity is exposed through his disappointment in his mother's reaction to the news of his departure for the war; he expects a grand, tearful speech about heroism, yet all he receives is a pair of hand-knitted socks and some sensible advice.
Over the course of his military career, Henry's character goes through a different emotional stage with every obstacle he faces. At the start of the novel, Henry is excited to join the army and is oblivious to what really happens in battle. For example, Henry states, "He had, of course, dreamed of battles...