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The Red Badge of Courage

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In The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane uses fear to bring you into the story and keep you there. Crane's main character Henry, "the youth", is the prime example for this point. Henry's fear is the entire novel's basis. Throughout the story, Henry goes through different phases of fear.

Henry starts out to be a rebellious teen wanting to join the army and gain the glory and recognition that comes with it. He fails to realize that fame and glory don't come easy. He realizes that he is going to have to work for it and this is where his fear stems from. Once enlisted, Henry finds himself on the field of an ensuing battle. He debates if he will fight with his side, or run off into the woods. The battle starts, and Henry keeps to his position through sheer fear of dying. When the opposing side appears to retreat, the Union side celebrates pre-maturely. Moments later, the South re-groups and attacks again. Henry this time does not stay and fight. The first wave was hard enough and this time Henry is too afraid to stay. As he ran into the woods, he began to question the slaughter he had witnessed in the battle. When Henry comes out of the woods into another regiment another soldier slams him over the head, giving him a false red badge of courage, for not letting go of him.

Henry, scared and wounded, stumbles in the dark overcoming a great fear of the Southern army, by wandering through dark and unknown land, to find his way back to camp. He finds a friend who leads him to his regiment. Henry, afraid of what his regiment will think of him, begins to think of a story to make his injury seem realistic. Trying not to give away it's actual origin, Henry comes up with a gunshot wound story. His regiment gives him the glory he wanted, but under false circumstances. In the following days, another battle takes place. Henry fearing again what his regiment would think of him has to stay and fight. Henry is so into keeping the origin of his wound hidden that he stands behind a tree and fires shot after shot towards the army. He continues to fire after the rebels had retreated; another soldier had to stop him. Henry is seen as a great soldier. One of the lieutenants came over and said; "By heavens, if I had ten thousand wild cats like you I could tear th' stomach outa this war in less'n a week!"

Henry's fear is the driving force of the novel. His dream to be seen as one



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