Color Imagery in The Red Badge of Courage
Stephen Crane uses color imagery and color symbols in The Red Badge of Courage. Green represents youth, red is a symbol of Henry Fleming's mental visions of battle, and gray is used as a symbol for death. The colors are subtle representations of emotion, character, and one's perception of events.
"As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors" (Crane 368). Like children, the young soldiers circulate rumor within the regiment (Rice). Later Crane writes "he was aware that these battalions with their commotions were woven red and startling into the gentle fabric of the softened greens and browns. It looked to be the wrong place for a battlefield" (Crane 377). Green represents the youthfulness of the battalions, and red is an image of battle (Rice).
Red is used most often in The Red Badge of Courage. Crane writes of "...the red eye-like gleam of hostile campfires set in the low brow of distant hills," (Crane 368). In Henry's mind, the campfires represent the eyes of the enemy. Crane then continues with the metaphor in later chapters. He writes, "?he conceived them to be growing larger, as the orbs of a row of dragons advancing." (Crane **) "The red of the campfires comes to represent the eyes of the enemy, of dragons. The monstrous dragons are indeed, the opposing army." (Rice)
All forms of war are red to Henry. "...war, the red animal - war, the blood-swollen god." (Crane 378) This animal of war "rules over and feasts on battles." (Rice). Henry characterizes the battles as a "crimson roar". The screams and the gunfire are red to him. The red world of war is comparative to the red world of Hell. A prisoner curses his captors to the "red regions". "Whether or not he intends for them to go to the red regions of Hell is irrelevant; they are already in some kind of Hell." (Rice)
Anger is also shown through the color red. At the end of the...
Cited: Aisling - Dream Interpretation. http://www.avcweb.com/dreams/colour-meaning.htm*
Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. American Literature. Ed. George Kerns. New York: Macmillan, 1984
Gregg, Rachel. http://www2.msstate.edu/~rmg4/colormeaning.html. Last modified: December 12, 2000*
Rice, Elizabeth. "Color in Crane 's The Red Badge of Courage". March 6, 1995.
The Red Badge of Courage Online ftp://ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext96/badge10a.txt
*Web sites were used throughout the paper as a general resource.
** The copy of The Red Badge of Courage in the literature book does not have this paragraph, but it is used in Rice 's essay and in internet publications of the book.
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