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The Red Badge of Courage
Literapedia Book Notes for
The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
(ch 1)--sometimes called "the youthful private"
(ch 1)--sometimes called "the tall soldier" and later "the spectral soldier"
(ch 1)--sometimes called "the loud private" or "the loud soldier"
the young lieutenant
(ch 3)--sometimes called "the savage lieutenant"
the tattered man
(ch 8)--a wounded soldier who befriends Henry
the man of the cheery voice
(ch 12)--another soldier who befriends Henry
Jim Conklin brings news to Henry that battle is near, but Wilson, the loud private disagrees. Henry remembers leaving his home and his mother, and he worries how he and his regiment will react in the face of battle.
The army finally moves, but Henry is scarcely relieved. At camp, Wilson claims that he is sure that he will not run from battle.
Henry’s regiment marches into the battle area, and they see skirmishes ahead of them. Henry and Wilson show their impatience while Jim trusts in the wisdom of the generals. As the battle approaches, Wilson hands Henry a packet to give to his family after what he feels to be his impending death.
Henry’s regiment waits at the edge of the grove, and they watch the wave of soldiers retreating from the battle.
The enemy charges, and Henry’s company fights bravely in their first battle.
Henry and his regiment congratulate themselves on a job well done, until the second wave of attack comes and Henry runs away. Henry passes a general and learns that the remaining troops held the line.
Henry feels ashamed and goes off in the forest to be alone. He throws a pine cone at a squirrel and later stumbles across a forest “chapel” where he sees a dead man whose uniform has turned green.
The silence of the forest is broken by the sounds of the battle, and Henry runs towards it. Henry joins a procession of wounded soldiers and meets the spectral soldier and the tattered man.
Still in the procession of wounded soldiers, Henry realizes the identity of the spectral soldier and, with the tattered man, watches the spectral soldier die.
Henry speaks with the tattered man for a while. The tattered man asks Henry where he is wounded, and Henry leaves him as he prepares to die.
Henry stands behind the battle lines and contemplates the retreating and advancing soldiers. Henry imagines what it would be like if he returns to his regiment.
Henry detains a retreating soldier to ask for information, and Henry gets hit on his head. Henry walks around in a daze but is helped back to his regiment’s camp by a man with a cheery voice.
Henry arrives at his camp at night. He lies to his corporal about running away and about his wound, and Wilson helps Henry to bed.
The next morning, Henry is awakened by the sounds of the ongoing battle. Wilson makes Henry breakfast, and in their conversation Henry notices a great change that has come over his friend.
Henry remembers the packet of letters that Wilson, in his fear the day before, had given to Henry. Wilson asks for them back, and Henry becomes arrogant when it appears that his lie is accepted by his fellow soldiers.
The regiment is moved to trenches near the fighting, and later they are led away from the battle. Henry blames the generals for the army’s perceived loss, and Wilson blames bad luck. They reach a clearing and realize that they have arrived at the battle line.
The opposing army attacks, and Henry’s regiment holds the line. Henry fights with a ferocity which earns him the praises of the lieutenant.
After the fighting has subsided, Henry and Wilson go to find water. They overhear a general’s decision to have their regiment charge the enemy, and Henry and Wilson take the news back to their friends.
Henry’s regiment charges forward, pauses, and is then slowly advanced by the cries of the lieutenant. Henry and Wilson assist the lieutenant in leading the men, and when the color sergeant is shot, they take the flag.
Henry takes the flag, and his regiment makes a fighting retreat until the enemy stops firing at them.
The regiment feels shame at their failure in the charge, but Henry and Wilson are complimented on their courage.
During a pause in fighting around his regiment, Henry is able to observe the rest of the battle. After awhile, the enemy charges and gains protection of a fence in front of Henry’s line.
Henry’s regiment charges the fence, Wilson gets the enemy’s flag, and prisoners are taken.
The battle over, Henry’s regiment marches away. Henry thinks back on the events of the last few days and reaches a new sense of self-understanding.
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