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Red Badge Of Courage Essay

1240 words - 5 pages

Individual people are defined by the character traits they possess, and how these traits are present in  their lives. Such traits assist all people in functioning physically, mentally and socially. However, these traits also determine how an individual reacts to a situation, particularly one of adversity. In adverse situations, these traits which have built up one’s entire life can either aid or inhibit success in the face of adversity. War situations are a primary example of character traits either helping or hurting soldiers, no matter the conflict and its details. The sheer risk of the situation in itself makes it defining for many involved, particularly those in the thick of battle. In ...view middle of the document...

When describing Fleming’s transformation from an ambitious eighteen year old boy to a weathered, reflective state after the war, Crane describes, “He knew then all the horrors he had let go in the sheer intensity of the moment” (Crane 87). After taking time to think about all the terrible things he witnessed, (dead friends, maimed soldiers) he can’t understand why he went to war in the first place, demonstrating the transformative effects of war and how people demonstrate traits others doubt.
Over the course of the book, Henry develops and demonstrates bravery in multiple circumstances. For example, in the beginning of the book, Crane describes the eighteen year-old, untested Henry the night before a battle by writing, “A little panic-fear grew in his mind. As his imagination went forward to a fight, he saw hideous possibilities. He contemplated the lurking menaces of the future, and failed in an effort to see himself standing stoutly in the midst of them” (Crane 8). Basically, Henry’s view of himself is that he does not belong in the ranks of these men, who he believes are superior to him in many regards. While this may just be a result of never being in a battle situation, Henry genuinely seems as though he does not want to be in this position, that he didn’t know really what he was signing up for. However, Henry develops his sense of bravery in the heat of the moment. After thinking countless times about running away in the face of danger, Henry assists a fellow soldier off the battlefield who has been brutally maimed, and continues to fight after seeing some of his fellow soldiers die. His transformation from a shy, young soldier to a brave one is nearly complete, with little progression left. In a crucial battle for positioning, Henry is described as, “Fighting with a courage rarely seen by many in the face of death” (Crane 85). This sense of courage and patriotism only continues throughout this battle, as Henry ends up capturing the Confederate Flag, effectively winning the battle for his regiment which earns him a red badge award for his courage on the battlefield. Fleming’s journey is one of extreme progression  from a shy boy afraid of any warfare to an award-winning soldier, demonstrating how war forcefully matures people at an accelerated rate.
Henry Fleming develops a reflective nature over the course of The Red Badge of Courage. Before experiencing his first battle, Crane writes that Henry was, “A fellow who did not seem to concern himself with time outside of the present” (Crane 14). Henry only cared about what was going on at the moment, giving little thought to what could or had happened....

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