A Review Of The Red Badge Of Courage By Stephen Crane

To begin with, The Red Badge of Courage was written by Stephen Crane in October 1895. The book is a war story with the genre being Historical Fiction. Due to this story being historical fiction, the ideas portray Realism. Although, the source of the Civil War ideas portrayed in the story is Crane’s mind. The Red Badge of Courage was Crane’s most successful book. Due to the story being a fiction, there aren’t really any sources other than Crane’s imagination on what occurred during the Civil War. My opinion on the book is that it’s very motivational. Being a young person myself, I can relate to Henry on some of the choices he decides to make. The brain doesn't develop entirely until the age of 25. Due to this, the emotions Henry goes through are very common and the lessons he has learned can still apply to people today.

Secondly, the main character is Henry Fleming who is the protagonist in the story. Henry is a young Union Army soldier. Henry manifests being a hero in battle. His motivation is rather strange as all he desires is a reputation. Entering the war, Henry was potentially willing to risk his life to seem like a war hero when the war ends. Henry strives to show courage and confidence in the battlefield. But, when Henry is faced with a battle, he runs away. This ultimately shows that the courage Henry had wasn’t the courage to fight for what he believes in with the cost of his life. When Henry ran away from battle, he met people who are wounded. This is when he first met Jim Conklin who becomes his friend. Jim is a soldier who is fighting for the Union as well. Jim dies during the first battle which negatively impacts Henry as they had a strong bond. Jim’s objective in his life was to fulfill his duty of passing on happiness. After his passing, “The youth went slowly toward the fire indicated by his departed friend”. The youth is another name for Henry Fleming. The death of Jim altered who Henry was as a person. Henry felt like he had something to achieve in battle as he wanted to finish the job his best friend started.

Also, the main theme of The Red Badge of Courage is Courage. For Henry, he feels the definition of Courage is being a brave fighter. Henry shows he has courage as he is willing to risk his life for the Union army. For example, “he threw the obedient, well-balanced rifle into position and fired a first wild shot”. This ultimately demonstrates his courage as he went into the battlefield knowing that he could walk potentially lose his life. Thankfully, he was able to collect enough courage to fire a bullet. Sadly, Henry’s fear overtakes his courage which eventually causes him to flee from battle. But, if it wasn’t for Henry fleeing from battle the first time, he wouldn’t have met the wounded soldiers and regained the courage to be a leader in battle once again. Due to this battle taking place in the Civil War, the lack of technology-aided Henry in his escape from the battlefield. In modern days, there are now chemical warfare and super-advanced computer technology people use to track military devices. During this battle, the only weapons were guns. Ultimately, the fact that Henry was able to even shoot a gun demonstrates courage regardless of him running away from the face of battle.

Additionally, The Red Badge of Courage is a very inspiring book. Crane did an excellent job of giving the reader an idea on how Henry Fleming felt as he fought and ran from battle. Due to Crane being born six years after the Civil War ended, the realism being portrayed in the story is phenomenal as Crane wasn’t alive to endure the wrath caused by the Civil War. While reading this book, the feeling of living in the Civil War is present. This is due to Crane’s excellent use of imagery. For example, when Henry says, “The torn bodies expressed the awful machinery in which the men had been entangled” the reader can picture people killing each other while using muskets. Crane’s use of point of view was perfectly written and ultimately was a huge benefactor on the attempt to influence the reader’s emotions. All of this can be attributed to the overall success of The Red Badge of Courage.

Lastly, I highly recommend The Red Badge of Courage as a book to read. Due to the time period the book was written, many words used in the book aren’t commonly used today. So, reading this book will expand one’s vocabulary. In addition, the story will take one through a rollercoaster of emotions. From cheering on Henry going into battle to feeling devastated because he ran out of battle, you are going to feel it all. 

16 August 2021
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