Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage: Wounds of War

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Jim (also known as “the tall soldier”)plays a huge part in Stephen Crane’s Red Badge Of Courage novel because he leads the path for Henry through war. Jim seems to be a big brother to Henry throughout the battles. Henry and Jim were friends before the war so he has a stronger connection to him than the other soldiers. Henry constantly asks how he would do in battle because the thought of running away always crept into his mind. The relieve his stress Jim confesses that he, too, has been afraid that he may run from battle, stating, ‘“I’ve thought it might get too hot for Jim Conklin in some of them scrimmages, and if a whole lot of boys started and run, why, I s’pose I’d start and run. And if I once started to run, I’d run like the devil and no mistake. But if everybody was a-standing and a-fighting, why, I’d stand and fight.’” (Crane,11).

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During this transition, Henry’s emotions run wild from glory to fear to depression to anger to exhilaration to courage to honor. This process happens very quickly for he experiences a lifetime of trauma in just the first few days. A good comparison of this is when in the beginning Henry lees the scene and then justifies his actions, all while demeaning the men who were courageous enough to stay by deeming them imbeciles stating “If none of the little pieces were wise enough to save themselves from the flurry of death at such a time, why, then, where would be the army? ”(Crane,49). But the next battle is different, for Henry charges into combat with no hesitation stating that he was somewhat like a machine and it felt automatic.

An incident that may have shown Henry a valuable lesson was when he ran and his teammates were all wounded after he ran. Henry went back to see because he was curious but he realized that he was not there to go through it with his team. This can take a toll on someone and can leave what some would call “survivors guilt”. Even though his entire battalion did not perish, he still felt guilty for not having their back. For in the text it states,” He began to pity himself acutely. He was ill-used. He was trodden beneath the feet of an iron injustice. He had proceeded with wisdom and from the most righteous motives under heaven’s blue only to be frustrated by hateful circumstances”(Crane,50). Because of this in the next battle, he went in courage and did not back down.

In conclusion. The title Stephen Crane’s Red Badge Of Courage refers to the wounds that the soldiers suffered in war. These wounds were viewed as courage. But it also meant they stayed and fought and didn’t back down. The red depicts the bloodshed that came with this courageousness. The title symbolizes Henry in a way of how in the end, he stood up and fought and in the end, earned his red badge of honor.  

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