Red Badge

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Red Badge of Courage
Essay by Andy Zolot

Throughout the movie, The Red Badge of Courage directed by John Huston, and the book, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, many similarities and differences are clearly present. Though the book and the screen play were not written by the same person, many similarities are apparent. The first and arguably most important similarity between the book and the movie is the plot. The youth, Henry, has to decide between doing his duty and protecting his own life. As the platoon begins to march towards battle, he feels that he is the only person struggling with this pressing issue, but in the ensuing battle, many soldiers flee. Consumed by the rationalization that he needs to preserve his own life in order to preserve the army as a whole, Henry retreats during the second battle. In both the book and the movie, Henry works desperately to restore his own self-confidence by making irrational justifications for his own cowardice. In order to further justify his actions, he lies to those around him to explain his disappearance and then convinces himself that whatever they believe is true. Another similarity occurs later, when Henry again faces battle. The events that take place up to this point seem to change Henry from an immature boy to a courageous man, and he ends up confronting his fear and fighting valiantly. When every other soldier cowers before the enemy, he continues to advance, going so far as to capture the enemy’s flag. These similarities in plot help to make the movie a splendid rendition of the events in the book.

Although there are many similarities in the plot, the setting in which these events unfold differs greatly between the book and the movie. One example of this occurs during Henry’s frantic flight from the second battle. In the movie this is sequence of events is fairly uneventful, but in the book Henry stumbles upon the decaying corpse of a soldier in a tattered blue uniform much like...
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