The Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane traces the effects of war on a Union
Soldier, Henry Fleming, from his dreams of soldiering, to his actual enlistment, and through
several battles of the Civil War. Henry Fleming was not happy with his boring life on the farm. He
wanted to become a hero in war and be praised and honored for his glorious achievements in
battle. He knew his mother would not like to see him go to war, but it was his decision to make.
He dreamed of the exciting battles of war and the thrill of marching. He didn't want to stay on the
farm living his benign life making rounds and completing chores. He made the final decision to
enlist. Once enlisted though, Henry learns the truths of war: its dreary, tiring, gruesome, and
well, boring. He finds he spends most of his days with simply nothing to do. He manages to
make friends with two other soldiers, John Wilson and Jim Conklin. John Wilson is a soldier who
protrudes a boastful, and pragmatic attitude, though he quickly falls to become a soldier of
compassion after realizing his own mortality in battle. Wilson was as excited about going to war
as Henry, while Jim, the “Tall Soldier,” was confident about the success of the new regiment. Jim,
portrays the tall, confident, veteran soldier, experienced and shows no fear. The death of Jim
leads to the downfall of Wilson, having seen that such a wise soldier can be killed, then certainly
the same fate awaited each and every other.
After a few days in the regiment, Henry started to realize, that their regiment was just
wandering aimlessly, going in circles, like a vast blue demonstration. They kept marching on
without purpose, direction, and without fighting. Through time Henry started to think about the
battles in a different way, a more close and experienced way, he started to become afraid that he
might run from battle when duty calls. He felt like a servant doing whatever his superiors told
him. When the regiment finally discovers a battle taking place, Jim gives Henry a little packet in a
yellow envelope, telling Henry that this will be his first and last battle. The regiment managed to
hold off the rebels for the first charge, but then the rebels came back like machines of steel with
reinforcements, driving the regiment back. One man started to flee, then another, and another still.
Henry was scared, confused, and in a trance as he saw his forces depleting. He finally got up and
started running like a proverbial chicken, who has lost the direction of safety. After running away,
Henry started rationalizing his behavior in running from the enemy. At first he feels he was a
stupid coward for running, then he feels he was just saving himself for later. He felt nature didn't
want him to die, even though his side is losing. He...