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Disregard for the Human Life in The Red Badge of Courage

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War is a terrible, scary and unforgivable place where even the bravest of men tremble in fear. This is especially true for young Henry Fleming, the main character of The Red Badge of Courage. He undergoes the most change in the story, going from a cocky, romantic young man eager to experience the glory of war to a seasoned soldier who sees war as messy and tragic. Yes, war is messy but this is not the point. The more concerning matter is the complete disregard that humanity has for the human life.

It is fascinating how even at a young age we have been taught to admire war and the warriors it produces. Young men and women dream of the battlefield and the glory and honor that comes with it. All his life, Henry has dreamed of and longed to see battles, those ‘great affairs of the earth'(Crane, Stephen). The human life is something to be gambled with or that’s what humanity would like you to believe. If you lay down your life for someone else’s or for the greater good of your county then you will be honored and your family will be given wealth. I is absolutely a good moral code to fight for the good of others, but many people enjoy the fight. They like the conflict it brings or the profit it may afford them.

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The world has made killing others in the name of greater good something that is ok. People somehow believe that violence should be fixed with more violence. God says to turn the other check. That doesn’t mean to literally turn the other check if someone hits you. It means that forgiveness and love needs to be more powerful than the hatred for others. Humanity would be so much more if we would learn to love each other as Jesus loved us. Since recorded history, from the shores of ancient Troy to the jungles of Vietnam, mankind has been engaged in the act of creating suffering and slaughter in an orchestrated manner, often on a grand scale.(Huff) War has become a tradition of human life. Ever since Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit there has been conflict and sin in the world and it will continue to be like that until Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom here on Earth.

“The Red Badge of Courage has been celebrated for its vivid portrait of both the physical action of battle and for the psychological realism of the protagonists internal struggle to control his fear, regulate his fantasies, and live up to the heroism he had earlier imagined”(Grandy). This book does a great job at portraying the horrific effects of war. The world has created so many different and creative has to kill others. Death is a fundamental part of life, but the blatant disregard that humanity has for the human life is horrific.

All and all war is a horrible place and humans do things for the ones they love, their countries, pride, honor, and wealth. Humanity has a complete disregard for the human life. Generals risk soldiers, mothers risk sons, and daughters risk fathers all for the so called greater good. The Red Badge of Courage is a great book that depicts an awesome story the tells the true horrors and glories of war. 

Work Cited

  • Alotaibi, H. (n.d.). The Power of Society in The Red Badge Of Courage. Retrieved January 12, 2018, from referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1708&context=etdarchive 
  • Grandy, B. (2016, February 17). The Red Badge of Courage Journal. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from
  • Huff, G. M. (n.d.). War Beyond Romance: The Red Badge of Courage and Other Considerations. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from ‘[Henry’s] mind took a mechanical but firm impression, so that afterward everything was pictured and explained to him, save why he himself was there.’. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2018, from
  • Jr., J. A. (2011, September 21). Searching for a War of One’s Own: Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, and the Glorious Burden of the Civil War Veteran. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from
  • Kiely, D. O. (2009, April 30). Casualties of War: Combat Trauma and the Return of the Combat Veteran. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from
  • Msila, A. (n.d.). Henry Fleming’s Psychological Development. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from


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