The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

December 7, 2011
Stephen Crane wrote this civil war book. He writes in the view of a soldier and uses great details to describe every scene, mostly in a forest, in the book.
This story focuses on Henry Fleming who is a young teen who decides to enlist with the Union Army. The scenes take place in the fields and roads of the American South, as a Union regiment wanders through Confederate territory and encounters the enemy on the battlefield.
After enlisting Henry realizes that it may not have been the smartest of ideas and the longer before battle the more scared Henry becomes. In his first little battle he shoots blindly at unseen targets. When another battle comes he runs away out of fear. When he runs through the trees he meets an injured soldier that follows Henry and talks to him. Then they run into Henry’s friend Jim who is very injured and close to death. They follow Jim and when he finally dies Henry is devastated. So he leaves the corpse and the soldier.
Henry now blames himself over Jim’s death and runs through the forest, into a fleeing regiment. When he stops a soldier to ask why they are fleeing the soldier only wants to leave and hits Henry in the head with his gun and runs away. Henry loopy and confused walks to his regiment where he is afraid someone saw him run from battle. But no one saw him and everyone thinks he was just injured in battle.
Henry realizes that one other soldier was afraid like him before the battles and with this knowledge Henry’s confidence and courage are restored. Henry suddenly becomes a strong leader with the urge to kill and seek revenge for all the Union’s deaths. He transforms into a fighting machine and defeats a small group of enemies all by himself while his regiment just stares at him.
In another battle Henry’s regiment is chosen to fight. Henry leads the charge with the lieutenant and even becomes the color bearer when the color sergeant is shot. All the little battles and big battles Henry’s regiment and other regiments fought in were called the battle of Chancellorsville.
Through the book Henry evolving from a scared boy to a courageous soldier is the core of the novel. This story is of a young boy’s growth from a discouraged soldier to a confident leader. The most noticeable theme is the affect of fear and stress on normal confident men.
Even though I don’t usually like historical books, I found this book quite enjoyable and amusing.

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