Red Badge of Courage

Essay by Cunningham30College, UndergraduateB, April 2004

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Defining Courage

On the surface Henry Fleming's red badge of courage was a gash in his head caused by the butt of a rifle. This wound actually being a fake medal actually representing his cowardice and fear of battle. While many men and women may criticize Henry for deserting his battalion, it is only human nature to want to survive. This is thoroughly explained in Walter Cannon's theory of the fight or flight mechanism. It is a human's reaction to life threatening situations, and only given the options of fighting for survival or fleeing to preserve one's own life (Fornarola 1). In Henry's first encounter with combat he becomes entangled with the regiment gaining a sense of bravery along side the other men firing their weapons. Upon his next encounter with the enemy Henry runs away in order to save himself. Eventually he his hit in the head by another fleeing man trying to get away from Henry.

Henry is reunited with his regiment and applauded for his injury by his peers.

Henry's courage is now being determined by the other men in his regiment. Unfortunately for Henry, he knows that this is not the truth. While back with the 304th regiment Henry will again be faced with the decision to stay and shoot with the men or to run and keep himself from death on the battle field. In a blind rage over the death of a close friend Henry continues to fire and reload on the opposing forces. He earned a large amount of respect from the superior officers despite the fact that their regiment was described as fighting like "mule drivers." They were to be sacrificed in order to save the blue army. During the battle, Henry picks up the battle flag after the bearer was...