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The Red Badge Of Courage: Written Between The Lines Essay On The Symbolism In Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge Of Courage"

1213 words - 5 pages

Andi Robinson09/17/2007English pd. 3Test/EssayThe Red Badge of Courage:Written between the LinesTalented author and storyteller, Stephen Crane manipulates the English language by using nature, an awesome and unpredictable thing, as a medium to describe war, which can also be just as unpredictable and awesome. The devices he uses in his war "epic", as it has been called, can make the reader believe that war is an art and not just a bloody event. Crane is able to portray many life lessons through the situations that the youth, an extremely dynamic character in the story, is thrust into. Crane is able to use the art of symbolism to help readers relate to the story even though they may have never been in a war setting. Three of the many symbols he uses are quick and easy to relate to everyday life situations and thus I have chosen these. Camp fires, the enemy colors, and the forest are some of the most controversial symbols because they can be viewed in many different ways.Warming, comforting, and yet dangerous, Campfires are used in the story many times. One of the first times we see Crane mention one of these campfires is in Chapter 2 (page 13). The campfire is seen by the contemplating Henry Flemming, in order to completely understand the significance of the fire in this part of the story one must know the situation of the regiment. The 304th regiment had been stuck in camp for weeks and was ready to get out of there tents and pick up a rifle. When Henry Flemming looked across that river every night and saw the brilliant, flickering flames, he couldn't help but think that he would never see the smoke of gunfire. Campfires become a taunting object to Henry, a virgin to battle, who believed that he had wasted his time and would be going home without honor. Campfires throughout the rest of the story have drastically different meanings from a comfort to a fear. After Henry Flemming had deserted his regiment he came upon a smiling soldier who led him back to his regiment. Most of the time they spent walking together, Henry was worrying about being teased by his fellow comrades. Ignorant, Henry saw desertion as the preservation of an army by saving the life of one soldier who could later fight in place of all those who had died. Having met the soldier, Henry had a complete turn around as to his views on the Army's preservation. Henry began to fear that he would be teased upon arriving back to camp. Bright, taunting, and flickering, the campfire of his regiment cursed him, teased him. Henry wanted to turn around because every step he took brought him another step closer to his demise. Unpredictably, Henry was welcomed into the camp by Wilson and the Lieutenant. The meaning of the campfire took a 180-degree-turn-around and became a symbol of hope, of family, of support. Wilson left his station as lookout and tended to Henry's wounds.Dark… dank… mysterious, the meaning for forest is just as shifty as the fire. As a naturalist, Crane uses the...

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