The Red Badge Of Courage: Crane's Attitude

1320 words - 6 pages

FINAL ESSAY:The Red Badge of Courage By Stephen CraneThe Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is a completely unromantic and realistic story about a boy's psychological turmoil as he experiences warfare. Stephen Crane's attitude towards war is a distraught understanding of the irrational effects war has on human beings and one of disgust towards its vicious brutality. Stephen Crane reveals this attitude through the uses of the Henry Fleming's thoughts and actions, through the characters' dialogue and through animal imagery throughout the novel.Stephen Crane views the war as the cause of the irrational thoughts and actions expressed by the soldiers during the time of battle. Henry Flemming, ...view middle of the document...

Henry is terribly confused at one point in this novel and he tries to figure out what is going on by groping at another soldier to explain it to him, but the soldier is "in a lurid rage. He adroitly and fiercely swung his rifle. It crushed upon the youth's head and he ran on" (pg. 74). This action is so vicious and monstrous that one cannot believe that one would do this when not under pressures like that of this civil war. So, the war causes this man to hit Henry in an attempt to let him go. Of course, he is in battle and needs to get away quickly, and he would not have hit him so brutally if it were not for Henry clinging to him so desperately, but this is also because war has made Henry's actions so irrational. Much later in the novel, the brutality of war strikes again as Henry begins to think very destructively about his enemies before he is to go to battle. The war makes him "[lose] sense of everything but his hate, his desire to smash into pulp the glittering smile of victory which he could feel upon the faces of his enemies" (pg. 101). This cold-bloodedness that pervades his system is the consequence of war's vicious brutality. It is possible that the atmosphere of the battle and his surroundings are what makes his self esteem rise and for him to be able to gather up courage and fight without fear. Therefore, through the characters' thoughts and actions the reader can see the vicious brutality that Stephen Crane sees in war.Through the characters' dialogue the reader can see the irrational effect that war has on human beings. No one can really predict the future, but Jim Conklin, the loud soldier of this novel thought that he could when he said that this was his "first and last battle... [that he was] a gone coon" and Jim wanted Henry to take some personal items back to his parents if Henry lived (pg. 29). This nonsensical notion that Jim had was because he felt that war would at one point lead him to his death (he was right), but he would not be able to know when this would occur. Because of the war, Jim spoke irrationally and made himself believe that he would die. Later, Jim actually does die but he was delirious and thought that he was in another place, and so this also shows the reader how through dialogue, Crane's attitude on war is that it is irrational. After, Henry's injury, a doctor was...

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