Discussion of the inner struggle Henry Fleming faces - the difficulty faced during the progression into manhood.

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The Red Badge of Courage


Stephen Crane

Bravery, valor, boldness, intrepidity are all synonyms of the word courage. For a man, courage is more apprehensive timidity than glorious expectance. Something as simple schoolyard brawl can define courage as lucidly as a war of attrition. Henry Fleming is racing towards the clarification of his own inner spirit in the throws of the American Civil War. Fighting against the "rebels," Henry has tremendous ambiguity over his moral fiber. From a war that gave us the term "bite the bullet," referring to the use of a bullet in the mouth of a wounded solider in lieu of anesthesia - it is chilling to imagine the thoughts that Henry Fleming battles from within. Can a boy become a man, define his gallantry and gain his fortitude through the slaughter of another human being? Will his greatest fear of being a coward come to pass? A lifetime of maturity is gained within hours of hostility between the depths of a young mans fervor.

Henry Fleming is alone. Henry is a youth alone in a war between a nation. The inner struggle that he faces cannot be uncovered through his own self-analysis. He must, and will face the ultimate sacrifice. No man knows how he would react in the face of eminent danger comparative to something as gruesome as the Civil War. Henry has heard the horror stories and knows that his fate is approaching beyond his control. Anger exists within Henry as he sees the bravery exhibited by fellow comrades. This courage is illusive to our youthful solider. He wonders, "Where does it lie within me?" "Henry Fleming is caught between the clash of his own courage ness and his desire for self preservation," Steve Crane - Clarendon Press, 1971. The convictions of...