The Red Badge Of Courage Language Analysis

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The Internal Battle for Victory The Red Badge of Courage, a civil war narrative which portrays the struggle of a young soldier in battle, was written by Stephen Crane, an author who had no real-life war experience. But through the accounts of real soldiers, Crane was able to create a novel respected for its realism about the civil war. He is commended for his deft use of figurative language and symbolism to depict the morbid reality of war. In The Red Badge of Courage, Crane not only analyzes the struggle of a union soldier fighting to reunite the states, he also studies the internal back-and-forth battle occurring in protagonist Henry Fleming’s mind. Henry’s unstable resolve, regarding his decision to run from battle or heroically risk his …show more content…
A staple symbol of the book is the title: The Red Badge of Courage. Henry sees valor in war: “At times he regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way. He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage” (53). He sees injuries as a fitting sacrifice for one 's country in return for the respect and honor of civilians. But as the novel goes on, he finds that war is no place for valor: only savagery exists. “In reality, war is a hellish experience, and those who survive it are simply luckier than the men who fall around them” (Bolton). Over time, Fleming’s attitude towards bravery matures into a humble and accepting one, accentuating his manhood. Also symbolic is the flag that Henry wrenches from the hands of the dead previous color sergeant: “within him… [was] a despairing fondness for this flag which was near him. It was a creation of beauty and invulnerability. It was a goddess, radiant, that bended its form with an imperious gesture to him… Because no harm could come to it, he endowed it with power” (111). Henry finds this flag a beacon of life, an immortal symbol in an otherwise treacherous place. Another symbol of The Red Badge of Courage, is again, part of the title, “Red”. The book often symbolizes war or bloodlust with crimson eyes or fires. At the end of the novel, Fleming discovers …show more content…
Previously noted above was the symbol of the “red badge of courage”, but Crane treats the red badge ironically as well. Fleming wishes for a wound in battle to prove his bravery and earn the honor of the other men. He envies the men who were hurt from battle, because they have an instant respect-earner. While Henry wishes to show off his own bravery from battle, when he gets injured, it was from a soldier on his own side: “[The soldier] adroitly and fiercely swung his rifle. It crushed upon the youth’s head… The scratching pain of the contact made him draw a long breath through his clinched teeth” (70). After taking this blow and lying about how he receives it, Henry has to live with the guilt of lying about how he got his mark of courage. The mark ironically becomes a mark of guilt and cowardice, instead of one with courage. Through irony, Crane constantly restates the point that the expectations of society have no real value on the battlefield, only the abilities of

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