Red Badge of Courage: Henry's Growing Maturity

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Kaitlin Alzapiedi
Honors English 10
Mrs. Shloegl
8th Period
17 October 2010
Red Badge of Courage Final Essay
Henry varies in maturity levels from the beginning of the book until the end of the book. In order for Henry to mature, he must experience fear. He witnesses death and war on a gruesome level, but he needs to do so in order to become an adult. In the beginning, Henry is immature; he thinks war is about being a hero and being glorified. He is extremely selfish, only focuses on himself, and does not show concern for what his mother says about war. He soon starts to question himself and his loyalty. He believes that he will be filled with doubt and run away like a coward.

Henry’s unrealistic, romantic views on war are quickly changed in the first battle. His first battle experience was not good because his nerves took over and he panicked. He runs in fear of battle and he had to lie about his injury. He realizes his view was completely wrong and unrealistic because war is not as glorified as he once thought. He now knows that war is dreadful and you need to stay strong mentally and physically. He thought war was full of heroic soldiers that got nothing but respect from the people they are fighting for. Soon after Henry’s revelation it is stated, “He suddenly lost concern for himself, and forgot to look at a menacing fate. He became not a man but a member. He felt that something of which he was a part - a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country - was in crisis.” (Crane 34) This quote shows that Henry comprehended that he was a part of something bigger then himself.

After he runs in fear, he meets the tattered man. He was a wounded man who tries to befriend Henry when he runs away from battle. They watch Jim Conklin die together which is Henry’s first emotional experience with death, and the stranger helps Henry through the pain. The tattered mad repeatedly asks Henry where he has been shot, suspecting his fake injury. This quote shows that...
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