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Red Badge of Courage1

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane traces the effects of war on a Union soldier, Henry Fleming, from his dreams of soldiering to his actual enlistment. The novel also takes one through several battles of the Civil War. Henry Fleming was not happy with his boring life on the farm. He wants to become a hero in war and have girls loving him for his glorious achievements in battle. He would also like to prove that he is a man and can take care of himself. Henry knows his mother would not like to see him go to war, but it is his decision to make. He dreams of the existing battles of war and the thrill of fighting glorious battles. He does not want to stay on the farm with nothing to do, so he makes the final decision to enlist. After enlisting he finds himself just sitting around with nothing to do. Henry manages to make friends with two other soldiers, John Wilson and Jim Conklin. Wilson is as exited about going to war as Henry, while Jim is confident about the success of the new regiment. Henry starts to realize after a few days of marching, that their regiment is just wandering aimlessly, going in circles, like a vast blue demonstration. They kept marching on without purpose, direction, or fighting. "The cold passed reluctantly from earth, and retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors." Crane uses imagery in this passage of spring at the beginning of the novel to show that the army is slowly coming together. Wartime activities are resuming after its long winter rest, just as nature is awakened to a new life after its long winter dormancy. Through time Henry started to think about the battles in a different way, a more close and experienced way. He starts to become afraid that he might run from battle when duty calls. Henry felt like a servant, doing whatever his superiors told him. ...

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