The Red Badge of Courage: Crane's attitude

Essay by DancinqtepHigh School, 11th gradeA-, March 2005

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The Red Badge of Courage By Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is a completely unromantic and realistic story about a boy's psychological turmoil as he experiences warfare. Stephen Crane's attitude towards war is a distraught understanding of the irrational effects war has on human beings and one of disgust towards its vicious brutality. Stephen Crane reveals this attitude through the uses of the Henry Fleming's thoughts and actions, through the characters' dialogue and through animal imagery throughout the novel.

Stephen Crane views the war as the cause of the irrational thoughts and actions expressed by the soldiers during the time of battle. Henry Flemming, when running from battle rationalizes his actions by making himself believe that he "had fled... because annihilation approached. He had done a good part in saving himself, who was a little piece of the army" and this is disturbing because it is obviously his way to calm his conscience from his worries about fleeing (pg.

48). Although very unromantic, this description of Henry is very realistic in the sense that this is the way that soldiers rationalize their actions, and in most cases war is the reason that many soldiers do think irrationally during times of war. Other instances of this that are shown throughout The Red Badge of Courage are much more unrealistic like the time when Henry sees the dead soldier in the forest and becomes rooted to the spot "fear[ing] that if he turned his back, the body might spring up and suddenly stealthily pursue him" (pg. 51). Obviously, this idea of Henry's is absolutely ludicrous, and it is the 'fault' of the war that has somehow changed his thinking to such irrationality. Therefore, through the Henry Fleming's thoughts and actions, the reader can clearly...