Many say that people change for the better or worse. Sometimes, changes can happen due to traumatic experiences that change one’s mindset. In the book, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Crane presents the reader with a boy named Henry that changes dramatically throughout the whole story. Henry’s dramatic change is for the better, and his views on life have also changed. For example, Henry shows more signs of humbleness, optimism, and has grown in maturity.
To begin with, Henry’s change is for the better because he is now more humble. Henry’s friend, Wilson, was once loud and boisterous but has now been humbled by his war experiences. Towards the end, Henry is influenced by Wilson’s change and follows his footsteps. Wilson’s caring act towards Henry makes him rethink about his and his friend’s personality, “Apparently, the other had now climbed a peak of wisdom from which he could perceive himself as a very wee thing. And the youth saw that ever after it would be easier to live in his friend’s neighborhood” (Crane, 91).
Inevitably, Henry starts to view events in his life in a different way. Henry slowly realizes that his personality should change also. Crane writes, “The youth took note of a remarkable change in his comrade since those days of camp life upon the river bank. He seemed no more to be continually regarding the proportions of his personal prowess” (91). As a result, Henry’s comrade’s positive attitude is reflecting back to him. Henry’s change of humbleness shows towards the end.
Altogether, the influences of his comrades and friends change Henry’s humbleness level. Secondly, Henry’s change is for the better because he is more optimistic now. Henry now sees himself as a better person. Crane writes about how Henry is feeling better as a person, “Indeed, when he remembered his fortunes of yesterday, and looked at them from a distance he began to see something fine there. He had license to be pompous and veteranlike” (95). Therefore, Henry sees himself becoming more of a “man”. Becoming a “man” to Henry is an important aspect and makes him optimistic about the future. It is written that Henry is feeling more confident, “There was a little flower of confidence growing within him. He was now a man of experience” (Crane, 95).
A flower is symbolizing Henry’s growing confidence and we often think of flowers as something positive. Eventually, the confidence Henry is gaining is a sign of optimism. In the long run, Henry is now more optimistic due to certain events and believes in himself more than ever. Lastly, Henry’s change is for the better because his maturity levels have grown. It is written in the book that Henry is starting to focus on more important issues that mattered to him, “He did not give a great deal of thought to these battles that lay directly before him. It was not essential that he should plan his ways in regard to them” (Crane, 95).
As shown in this quote, Henry’s focus changes and his maturity shows. Henry has grown overall in many ways but his maturity is an important aspect of his character. Crane writes about Henry, “He had been taught that many obligations of a life were easily avoided. The lessons of yesterday had been that retribution was a laggard and blind” (95). Throughout the book, Henry has faced and overcame his fears even though the possible outcome is death. Without a doubt, by Henry overcoming his fears, it makes him feel more mature due to being a “man”. Therefore, the maturity in Henry’s personality has grown over time.
To conclude, Henry’s dramatic change is for the better because it shows his humble, optimistic, and mature side. Furthermore, Henry’s change is caused by many events and experiences but in the end, he is happier with himself and shows more courage. There are many out there who struggle to be stable or find themselves in a certain situation. With time and determination, it will lead to a positive outcome.
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