Red Badge Of Courage

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, follows the journey of Henry Flemming during the Civil War, the bloodiest war in the United States' history. The exact position of Henry's regiment is left mysterious, though clues are given throughout the book. The book focuses not only on the war, but moreover on Henry's ideas of it, and how his ideas change over the course of the book. That mostly involves how he first feels about war, which is confusion; to realizing that war is hell, which leads him to a state of fear when a second charge of the enemy arises; and then on to struggling to find the courage to continue fighting. Henry's ideas changed, and as a person, so did he. He obtained the bravery and patriotism to keep fighting, and he also passed those traits on to his comrades in arms. By doing this, he started thinking of himself as being a man, rather than a lost boy, as he had once thought of himself.

Crane's Red Badge of Courage undertakes the task of portraying war and a boy's ever-changing ideas by using extreme detail, a southern dialect, and a gripping plot.

Crane's writing style is very descriptive. He can paint a glorious picture inside the reader's mind, then turns around and uses his knowledge of war to obliterate any glory that was ever there at all. His use of detail helps to keep the reader involved in the book. It was one of the few things that allowed me to read it without falling asleep or putting the book down. The use of detail is a double edged blade though, not only does it cut into your mind with its gripping scenes, but also into your patience because of the extreme boredom...