Red Badge of Courage - Henry Fleming


The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane traces the effects of war on
a Union soldier, Henry Fleming, from his dreams of soldiering, to his
actual enlistment, and through several battles of the Civil War.

Henry Fleming was not happy with his boring life on the farm. He
wanted to become a hero in war and have girls loving him for his glorious
achievements in battle. He knew his mother would not like to see him go to
war, but it was his decision to make. He dreamed of the exiting battles of
war and the thrill of fighting glorious battles. He didn't want to stay on
the farm with nothing to do, so he made the final decision to enlist.

After enlisting he finds himself just sitting around with nothing to
do. He manages to make friends with two other soldiers, John wilson and Jim
Conklin. Wilson was as exited about going to war as Henry, while Jim was
confident about the success of the new regiment. Henry started to realize
after a few days of marching, that their regiment was just wandering
aimlessly, going in circles, like a vast blue demonstration. They kept
marching on without purpose, direction, or fighting. Through time Henry
started to think about the battles in a different way, a more close and
experienced way, he started to become afraid that he might run from battle
when duty calls. He felt like a servent doing whatever his superiors told
him.

When the regement finally discovers a battle taking place, Jim gives
Henry a little packet in a yellow envelope, telling Henry that this will be
his first and last battle. The regiment managed to hold off the rebels for
the first charge, but then the rebels came back like machines of steel with
re-enforcements, driving the regement back. One man started to flee, then
another, and another still. Henry was scared, confused, and in a trance as
he saw his forces depleating. He finally got up and started running like a
proverbial chicken, who has lost the direction of safety.

After running away, Henry started rationalizing his behavior after
running from the enemy. At first he fells he was a stupid coward for
running, then he feels he was just saving himself for later. he felt nature
didn't want him to die, eventhough his side is losing. He believes he was
intelligent for running and hopes he will die in battle just for spite.

The same time Henry met Jim, he also met a tattered man. In the next
charge, Henry and the tattered man see Jim die a slow, and painful death.
After Jim's death, and a little talking, Henry,though not realizing it,
leaves the tattered man alone on the battle field, hurting inside, and
dangerous to himself.

In the charge ahead, Henry starts asking the soldiers why they are
running. He grabbed a comrad by the arm and asked the man "why- why-" not
letting go of the mans arm, so the man hit Henry over the head with the
butt of his rifle, giving Henry his first Red Badge of Courage. Dazed,
Henry stumbles around the battle field struggling to stay on his feet,
until a cheery man comes around and helps Henry to get back to his
regement.

At his regiment he confronts wilson and has his wound on his head
attended to. After a short rest he again gets back into battle. After the
regiment lost that battle, the generals had the regiment marching again.
Henry felt the generals were a lot of "lunkheads" for making them retreat
instead of confronting the enemy.

Henry begins to feel that, he and Wilson, are going to die, but goes
to battle anyway. In battle, Henry began to fume with rage and exhaustion.
He had a wild hate for the relentless foe. He was not going to be badgered
of his life, like a kitten chased by boys. He felt that he and his
companions were being taunted and derided from sincere convictions that
they were poor and puny.

In yet another battle, when Henry and Wilson get a chance to carry
their flag, they fight over who will retain the flag. Wilson got the
regement flag, though later in battle Henry manages to obtain the rebel
flag. And from there, runs to the front of the line with the Liutenant,
leading the way.

In battle he fought like a "Major General", though he did regret
leaving the tattered man alone on the battle field, he has grown-up, and is
not afraid of dying anymore.