The Red Badge of Courage


The Civil War was a time of freedom and passion. The soldiers in this war had to be brave and have courage to fight the enemy. In the novel The Red Badge of Courage, Henry Fleming, the main character, has to overcome all of his fears and doubts. Henry has to fight courageously and triumph over his fear of death and being a coward. The title, The Red Badge of Courage, means a wound and Henry, “the youth”, wants this badge because he wants to show his courage that he has in him. “The youth” also must find a way to tell the regiment the truth and lead a brilliant charge. Henry is in charge of holding the flag during the charge, this signifies the courage that he has in himself. He finds, after being wounded, how accepting the other regiment must be for letting a stranger stay in their camp. “The youth” encounters feelings of pain and suffering of others and himself on the battlefield. Henry feels the horrible feelings in the atmosphere; he sees death and the horror in the dead soldier’s eyes. When he is running away from the battle through the woods he finds a dead soldier. When Henry sees this dead soldier he realizes that he is no longer immortal. Henry realizes that he too could die but before this he thought he would never be killed because he was special. I believe that this shows his immaturity because teenagers and children believe it will never happen to them until one day it happens to them or they see something that makes them realize that it could happen to them. Later while Henry is in the woods he feels that everything in the woods was going silent and he believed that the woods were listening to the ongoing battle. This shows Henry how nature really is quite peaceful and creates joyful music, but when man intrudes he blocks the sound of nature’s music. In this novel, Henry has to overcome many of his fears, feelings he has, and feelings that others create around him. Henry Fleming, the main character in “The Red Badge of Courage”, experiences internal conflicts as well as external conflicts and various moods that shape a young boy in the Civil War.


Fear is an inner turmoil which one encounters at some period of time in ones life. Fear is nothing more than a conflict of emotions that is felt inside oneself. Fear is a conflict inside that seems to fill the soul with mixed emotions; one does not know how to justify this feeling. Fear is nothing more than a privilege as Henry Fleming said: “He needed to believe his fear was privileged because ‘he’ felt anonymous, a veritable unknown soldier in the midst of vast actions performed by vast collections of men” (Pease, 92). During battle Henry has to tell himself that fear is nothing more than a privilege that he has when fighting. Henry wants to make himself internally believe fear is only there as a privilege that he should be thankful for having. Henry has to overcome his many fears in The Red Badge of Courage. Henry has to be brave and courageous to overcome his fears of war and what others think about him. He needs to build up his self-esteem. He has to find his inner-self and fight his internal conflicts.


Henry, the youth, has a fear of running from battle which shows that he has an internal conflict of fear. Henry is thinking that if the battle gets tense he will run away. Henry Fleming has a conversation with the loud soldier and asks him: “How do you know you won’t run when the time comes?” (Crane, 17). He asks the loud soldier this because Henry has a fear of running himself. Henry also asks if the loud soldier thinks any of the boys will run. Henry is asking this because he is experiencing his own internal conflict and wants to know if the loud soldier thinks he will run. Henry wants to overcome his emotions and make himself believe that he will not run. Later, Henry is walking in the woods and suddenly his emotions