1 February 2014
A True Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage is full of imagery and symbols. While Crane uses color to describe many things, he also allows it to stand for whole concepts. Gray, for example, describes both the literal image of a dead soldier and Henry Fleming’s vision of the sleeping soldiers as corpses and comes to stand for the idea of death. In the same way, red describes both the soldiers’ physical wounds and Henry’s mental vision of battle. In the process, it gains a symbolic meaning which Crane will put an icon like the ‘red badge of courage’. Stephen Crane uses color in his descriptions of the physical and the non-physical and also makes color take on meanings from the literal to the figurative. Stephen Crane starts the novel with a description of the fields in the morning: “As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors” (Crane 1). The fog clears to reveal the literal green world of grass. It also shows another green world, the world of the youth. Like school children, the young soldier tells rumors from the regiment. This natural setting is an ironic place for killing, just as these men seem to be the wrong ones fighting in the Civil War. Stephen Crane says something on this in the narrative: “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 a wrong place for the battlefield” (Crane 26). Green is an image of the natural world and of the army’s youth, while red in the previous quote is clearly and image of battle. In the beginning, however, Crane uses red to describe distant campfires: “…one could see across the red, eye-like gleam of the hostile campfires set in the low brows of the distant hills” (Crane 4). Obviously, the fires are red, but Henry characterizes the blazes as the enemy’s...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document