Stephen Crane’s 1895 novel The Red Badge of Courage, conveys the fictional story of a young soldier named Henry. The setting takes place during the years 1861-1865. The American Civil War is taking place because of the ongoing conflict between the northern states and the southern slave owning states. Henry is certain to join the war. Throughout the novel, Henry shows a great deal of development and maturity as a soldier. There are drastic changes in his comportment and character due to the things he encounters. For the duration of this revision, Henry’s sensations array from glory, distress, melancholy, fury, elation, bravery and finally to integrity. His comportment and character transform from innocence to understanding, in essence from disbelief to responsibility.
When Henry is first introduced as the main character, he is an arrogant and self-centered young fellow who enlists for the army for the reason being that he believes it will bring him glory. Henry is determined to go to war despite the fact that his mother does not approve of his decision. The self-centered nature of this pursuit for glory is emphasized by his disobedience to his mother who worries for his well-being and pleads for him not to go. Egotistical Henry disregards her and goes away on his desperate journey to find his glory. Soon enough, he is forced to face realism and all his desires for glory begin to faded away.
Henry is consumed by a tremendous fearfulness. His fear is so great that he begins to believe “it would better to get killed quickly and end his troubles.” Although he was extremely afraid at first, he is able to regain assurance when he joins his fellow soldiers to maintain the line. Because he was able to put aside his self-centeredness and became part of the unit, he was able to survive the battle. The ability to become part of something larger and set aside one’s own ego is one of the main markers of maturity.
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