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The Red Badge of Courage
By Stephen Crane

Four main characters (and one-sentence description of each)

Henry Fleming (the youth) - Henry, the main character of the novel, was at first very excited to go to war joining the army against his mother’s wishes, but he finds war frightening and he becomes a coward to later become a hero.

Jim Conklin (the tall soldier) - Jim was a close friend that Henry had met in the army where he gets shot and is nursed by Henry.

Wilson (the loud soldier) - Wilson was a friend of Henry in the army who was at first loud and obnoxious but proves helpful when Henry became wounded.

Henry’s mother - She shows up at the beginning of the book and tells Henry that she does not want him joining the army, but wishes him luck when he does anyway.

Two minor characters (and one-sentence description of each)

Tattered soldier - He pestered Henry at the camp before they set off to fight.

Cheery soldier - He helped Henry back to camp after Henry fled.

Three main settings (and one sentence description of each)

The forest - All of the fighting occurs in the forest where Henry learns about fear and valor.

The camp - This is the Union base where the army set up for the night.

One paragraph plot outline

The book starts out with a new regiment for the Union army waiting around for some fighting.  Jim Conklin, a friend of the main character, Henry Fleming, hears some rumors about their next movements.  He tells the other soldiers of the rumors telling them that they’re going to go around the enemy and attack them from behind.  Sure enough, a few days later, they start marching and they attack.  This is the first battle for the regiment so a few soldiers, including Henry Fleming, desert the regiment.  After Henry deserts, he finds Jim and walks with him for a while before Jim dies.  Henry wanders about a bit and gets in a fight with another lost soldier of the Union army who hits him across the head with the butt of his rifle causing Henry to bleed.  By night, Henry, with the help of another soldier, finds his way back to his own regiment.  Luckily, no one suspects Henry of deserting.  Henry lies about the head wound being from the battle.  During the night, Henry is cared for by a friend named Wilson.  By morning, Henry is well rested and fights with his regiment several battles that day.  Henry always stayed in the front and encouraged the other soldiers to fight harder showing much courage.  He was complimented by the Colonel, but despite his victory, he still feels guilty about deserting his regiment the day before.

Two symbols and references

The red badge - The red badge, a blood stain, was a symbol of courage for other soldiers, however, for Henry, it becomes a sign of cowardice since he received his from a fight with another union soldier after deserting.

The flag - The flag carried during battle is a sign of an army’s place in the battle.  It also displayed the courage of the person who had to carry it since the flag bearer must always stand at the front lines.

Two or three sentences on style

Crane’s style is short and simple.  His sentences are not long or flowery.  Although he does not use very many figurative devices, his writing is easy to understand making reading quick and easy.

One or two sentences on dominant philosophy

The dominant philosophy in this book was that Henry and his fellow soldiers were not in complete control of their actions during the heat of battle.  They fought despite the risk of death not because of their love for their country but for adrenaline, while the soldiers who deserted did so not because of apathy for their country, but for the fear of the moment.

Four short quotations typical of the work.  (Include speaker, occasion)

“He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive, of sturdy and strong blood.”  Henry becomes a man after fighting courageously in battle.

“The landscape gave him assurance... it was the religion of peace.”  This is an example of imagery as Crane describes the area around the battlefield.

“There was a silence safe for the chanting chorus of the trees.”  This is another example of imagery.  Crane describes the atmosphere between shots on the battlefield.

“He, too, threw down his gun and fled.  There was no shame in his face.  He ran like a rabbit.”  Crane describes the way Henry fled from battle.  It was not thought out or decided upon, but a reflexive action.