Red Badge of Courage Essay

1251 Words Dec 4th, 2012 6 Pages
To Be or Not to Be… A Man The Red Badge of Courage written by Stephen Crane is a prime example of bildungsroman, or a coming of age story. Crane begins with a cowardly boy, Henry Fleming, and ends with an experienced war hero who has learned not just what war really is, but who he really is. Mark Twain once said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” [Epigraph] Although he struggles to learn that being a soldier means more than just showing up at battle, Henry uses the influences of the attitudes, events, and his own inner thoughts to complete his metamorphosis psychologically and morally. He also learns that he may have to sacrifice himself at some point to save …show more content…
“He faces his fears, disciplines and manages them, and in the end recognizes that honor (for example) is a higher principle than mere survival” (Richardson). Henry does not recognize this change in himself as quickly as readers might, however. It takes him longer to realize that he has developed into more than just a young soldier, but a man battling alongside other grown men. He first notices how Wilson can now handle himself in mature situations like when the two overheard commanding officers make disrespectful comments towards their regiment. “He showed a quiet belief in his purposes and his abilities. And this inward confidence evidently enabled him to be indifferent to little words of other men aimed at him” (Crane 97). After he and his army defeat the enemy, Henry starts to see a change in himself as well because he feels as though he has accomplished something great. Crane emphasizes this point by using a powerful, short, straight, to the point sentence of “And they were men” (Crane 129). This statement is so powerful because it sums up not only Henry’s, but every other young, naïve soldier’s journey who did not believe they could attain such goals. Crane does this to draw attention to the event that just happened because it is the point where Henry starts to not only act like a man, but think as one too. When Henry starts to think like a man, his transition becomes something he never thought could happen. He had dreamed about

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