Isolation in The Red Badge of Courage
Stephen Crane's literary technique has long been a matter of analysis and speculation. In The Red Badge of Courage Crane takes us into the life of a young man named Henry Fleming, who wants to enlist in the Army and fight in the war against the South. By using irony, similes, and symbols, Crane "paints" a vivid picture of what life was like for the fragile Henry Fleming. He opens our eyes to the vast reasons of separation for Fleming, and why he lived his life so independently. The precarious, vulnerable, and insecure Henry Fleming was isolated from more than just his family and his regiment; he was isolated from himself.
As the narrative, The Red Badge of Courage, opens, Henry and his mother are engaged in a quarrel about Henry leaving to join the Army. By going against his mother's wishes and disobeying her, he isolates himself from his family. This isolation is imperative to the way Henry lives his life during his time in the Army. Moral support is something that a family, especially a mother, provides for a child, but because Henry has disassociated himself from his mother, he neglects to receive this. This moral support is needed during the hard times of battle, but when Henry looks for this support, he realizes that he's pushed it away, far out of his life, and that it is almost imperceptible. Thus revealing the first isolation in Henry Fleming's life.
During war, a soldier's most important support system is his/her regiment. This is a support system that Henry has, then loses throughout this time period in his life. All through the war Henry questions his courage and bravery. He wonders if he will turn and run when death is looking him in the eyes, or if he will decide to stay and do what he came to do; prove that he is a man and can handle even death itself. During battle several soldiers are wounded earning their "red badge of courage" and Henry's confident, Jim Conklin, dies. Here is where Henry's second isolation, the isolation from his regiment, occurs. The soldiers in the regiment feel a certain pride and respectability from earning their "red badge." Henry didn't earn this sense of pride and respectability because of the abandonment of his fellow soldiers. He felt that...