Honors English 2
September 12, 2014
The Development of Henry Fleming
The Red Badge of Courage, written by Stephen Crane, is a well-known novel that follows the transition of an inexperienced, selfish young man into a soldier of honor and bravery. Fear is not foreign to any man but some have more difficulty overcoming their sense of insecurity. The main character, the ‘youth’ or otherwise known as Henry Fleming, has trouble finding courage that will help him change from an ignorant boy to a knowledgeable man. His journey takes him on every up and down possible but in the end, he finds himself, the real person hiding behind all the talks of courage and thoughts of failure.
Everyone has a fantasy they would like to achieve and Henry is no exception. Henry has the naïve belief that being glorified after coming back from the ‘heroic’ battles of war is the ultimate goal. “He had, of course, dreamed of battles all his life―of vague and bloody conflicts that had thrilled him with their sweep and fire. In visions, he had seen himself in many struggles. He had imagined people secure in the shadow of his eagle-eyed prowess” (3). Henry quickly learns not everything is how it seems. He begins to become apprehensive that he will run when the first sign of battle. He questions his courage. Henry “would have like to have discovered another who suspected himself” (14), meaning that he wants the assurance that there are others that are afraid.
In the first battle, Henry doesn’t remember his fear of running that would prove him a coward. “Henry suddenly became not a man but a member, and forgot to look at a menacing fate. He felt that something of which he was a part―a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country― was in a crisis” (38). Here, Henry has a brief moment of bravery. As the enemy begin their second attack, Henry suddenly becomes anxious and runs from the battle. He is overwhelmed with shame and anger when he discovers that the brave...
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