Henry Fleming

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Henry Fleming, an emotional and immature teenager who becomes an adult, over the course of just a few days. He was a naive and completely self-absorbed teenager who wants nothing more than a chance to show off and be thought of as a brave and daring man. He wanted to wear a uniform and carry a gun, to have girls "oohing" and "ahing" over him. Unfortunately, his manhood came at a steep price. The route he goes through forces him to recognize his own weaknesses and selfishness. It also makes him take a long hard look at his own choices of what bravery and loyalty truly are. Throughout the course of several battles, Henry discovers that he can rise above his own fears; he can be brave even at the possibility of his own death. As the text says, "There was the delirium that encounters despair and death, and is heedless and blind to the odds. It is a temporary but sublime absence of selfishness." (19.10). Henry learned that all men face and feel the same emotions, and that the world does not care what happens to Henry Fleming or anyone else. This was both an awful but freeing sense of equality. The gaining and expression of courage are Henry’s primary goals. At the same time they are his largest fears. At first, Henry had some very wonderful ideas about courage and war. He assumed that he will come home a hero, or not come home at all. His death was just a simple concept to him. He had no idea of what was actually involved in fighting. He had never even seen a dead body, but once he had experienced war and death, his views of courage changed. Suddenly, it seems that courage is something that other men have, but something that he clearly does not have. Courage and the lack of it, is now his main obstacle and passion. When he gives into his fear and runs from the battlefield, he is ashamed, but he also quickly justifies it as something any human would do under those same circumstances.

As time goes on he becomes more daring, and by the end has...
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