Stephen Crane Captures the Effect of Fear and Realism in “The Red Badge of Courage”
Authors: Dr. Thamarai Selvi
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Stephen Crane's “The Red Badge of Courage”, a war novel set in an unnamed battle of the Civil War, most likely the Battle of Chancellorsville was indeed a famous novel. The novel was routinely named as one of the greatest war novels of all time although, interestingly enough, Crane had no personal military experience. As the story unfolded, members of a newly recruited Union regiment were debating a rumour: they were finally out of the war the next day and engaged the enemy. One young soldier, Henry Fleming, reflected on what would become of him when he got to battle - namely, would he run or would he stand and fight bravely? He enlisted because he wanted to be a hero, like the warriors of the Greek epics. His own mother, however, was not interested in his notions of bravery, and discouraged him from being enlisted. When he told her he's joined the army, she denied him a farewell scene and merely said if he found himself in a situation where he would be killed or may do something wrong, he would go with his feelings. During the battle, even though Henry fought bravely, he did not receive any physical wound which bled. However, he does receive one but it was not the kind that he wanted to receive. The ensuing battle came to an end with Henry’s regiment winning the battle. Henry, on walking away with the regiment, first felt pride in his accomplishments of battle. Then he remembered his fight and his treatment of the tattered man, and guilt rose up in him again. He was concerned that his mate would see it. However, he eventually let it go, and now saw his previous thoughts on war and battle as silly. He had made it through the trials of battle, from the red and the black, and was changed into a man. The golden sunlight streamed through the clouds as he marched with his regiment.