8 Jun 2015
The Red Badge of Courage is a novel written in 1895 by Stephen Crane. Crane writes about a Union solder named Henry Fleming who fights with the 304th Regiment during the Civil War. This story can be interpreted as a coming of age story that shows one man's quest for maturity and redemption in the backdrop of war.
Throughout life, each man faces the questions of how to become a mature competent man and how to redeem himself when he falls short of his or the expectations of his peers. In the story, Henry Fleming is a young man who joined the Union Army in search of maturity and redemption. In the quote below, Crane discusses his transition from boy to man, "On the way to Washington his spirit had soared. The regiment was fed and caressed at station after station until the youth had believed that he must be a hero. There was a lavish expenditure of bread and cold meats, coffee, and pickles and cheese. As he basked in the smiles of the girls and was patted and complimented by the old men, he had felt growing within him the strength to do mighty deeds of arms" (Crane chap 1 pg. 4). The author uses this quote to explain how this is Henrys first step to becoming a man. throughout history one of the most noble things a man can do is serve his country in the time of war.
During a soldiers first battle, many fear the unknown and wonder how they will perform during their first firefight. This one act can forge the fighting spirit of men and be a critical part in their quest to become a man. Throughout the 1st chapter, the main character wondered how he would perform and the author explains this in the quote, "He suddenly lost concern for himself, and forgot to look at a menacing fate. He became not a man but a member. He felt that something of which he was a part--a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country--was in crisis. He was welded into a common personality which was dominated by a single desire. For some moments he could not flee no more than a little finger can commit a revolution from a hand" (crane chap 5 pg. 2). He understands he is no longer a individual but part of a team and has faced his fears and was successful in his first battle.
On the road to becoming a man, one makes mistakes and must come to terms with his actions or lack thereof. In the following quote, the author talks about the main character after he ran while facing the enemy during his second battle. "He had fled, he told himself, because annihilation approached. He had done a good part in saving himself, who was a little piece of the army" (Crane chap 7 pg.1). The main character saw the other soldiers retreating and due to his fear and lack of conviction he ran as well. After his retreat our main character finds himself in the forest and encounters many situations one of which is witnessing the death of his childhood friend Jim Conklin. "His tall figure stretched itself to its full height. There was a slight rending sound. Then it began to swing forward, slow and straight, in the manner of a falling tree. A swift muscular contortion made the left shoulder strike the…