Pursuing A Life Of Fantasy Essay

Submitted By jfcmanalo
Words: 725
Pages: 3

Jamie Manalo
Ms. Harrelson
English 3 – Pr.6
13 February 2015
Pursuing a Life of Fantasy Throughout The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane’s main character, Henry, undergoes shift in attitude towards his ideals about war. From an optimistic to an uneasy boy, Crane uses imagery, a 1st person point of view, and most importantly, contrast to highlight the realities of every human being trying to pursue a dream. Consequently, this allows us, the readers, to understand and join Henry simultaneously as he hits reality. Young and foolish, Henry dreamed of being in battle all his life. “…Of vague and bloody conflicts that had thrilled him in their sweep and fire” (192). He was aroused by the newspapers and the ringing of the church bell. Henry read of all the sieges, conflicts, marches, and even “longed to see it all” (193). But with the newspapers printing “accounts of decisive victory” daily and the church bell ringing to “tell the twisted news of a great battle” (193), it’s no wonder why a young boy like Henry would feel so much passion for war. Going against his mother’s wishes, Henry enlisted. His mother believed he had more importance on the field than in battle and “had affected to look with some contempt upon the quality of his war ardor and patriotism” (193). But when the departure of her son came, she disappoints Henry’s expectations with what is his first experience of reality. She says nothing about returning home with his shield on, but instead leaves him with a few words. Compared to Henry’s friends, Crane uses Henry’s mom to clearly illustrate a contrast between the young and the old. As Henry says his farewells to his friends, his friends “thronged about him with wonder and admiration” (195) showing the same glorification of war as Henry. Arriving in Washington, Henry gradually comes to terms with reality. Though he was initially greeted as a hero through big meals, pats on the back, and veterans’ tales, he quickly realizes they were “in no ways to be trusted” (197). He perceives now that real war is a “serious death of struggles with small time in between for sleep and meals” (196), and clearly understands that they, the recruits, were the veterans’ prey. Entering battle, Henry is bewildered. He runs with his comrades trying to fight but can only think of what would happen if he fell down – “he felt carried along by a mob” (210). As Crane puts it, he begins to comprehend this is the “great trial” (211) he has been longing for all his life but then realizes it would be impossible for him to escape the regiment! Henry then looks over the battle scene and sees