"The Red Badge Of Courage" Essay

2475 words - 10 pages

"The Red Badge of Courage" is the story of one young boy's journey through the Civil War and his quest for manhood. Henry, or The Youth as he is known in the book, is very naive in the beginning of the book. He sees war as something more glamorous and romantic than it actually is. He is very innocent and unaware of what war is truly like. Henry's only wish is to be seen as a hero and he believes that fighting in war will grant him that.
This idea Henry has gotten in his mind about war being so exciting and making heroes makes a lot of sense. War has always been something that is glamorized in the world. Whether it be a book about it or a movie, war always seems like something fascinating. They make it seem war is this fascinating adventure that changes you for the better and you are seen as a hero afterwards. Henry takes a lot from the Greek gods where a lot of them are war heroes. What people don't realize is that these stories and movies are not realistic. They show war in a prettier way. They romanticize it and make it something better than it really is.
Stephen Crane does the opposite with his book "The Red Badge of Courage". He shows people what war is truly like. He does not try to hide the gruesome reality of it. It is a whole different experience reading Crane's book compared to other war stories. Crane shows the world that war is not something you want. War does not make you a hero, in fact sometimes it can do the opposite. The war shows the men in the story who they truly are in times of peril and Henry soon learns he's not the brave heroic hero he once thought he was. When the enemy came the first thing Henry did was run and he never let himself hear the end of it.
Henry's greatest fear in the battle is that he will get scared and run, which he does soon after his first battle. At first he convinces himself that his decision to run is justified. He tells himself that he was protecting himself by running so it was the right thing to do. He escapes into the quiet and peacefulness of nature. Henry finds peace and a sense of comfort in the forest. He sees a squirrel run away from him when he gets too close and he believes that just like the squirrel, he too ran away from danger as an act of survival. He is now satisfied with himself and is no longer putting himself down from running, that is until he sees the corpse.
Crane doesn't try to make the corpse anything more than what it is. He doesn't hide any of the more gruesome details of the corpse, but instead describes them in much detail. When Henry sees this corpse he is horrified and believes that the corpse is a sign that he made the wrong move. He immediately runs out of the forest and tries to go back to his regiment. Seeing disturbing corpses like these are common in war but are not talked about most of the time. When Crane describes the corpse he mentions how his eyes are almost gone and his skin is pale. He also mentions how the corpses mouth...

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