Summary: Youth's Response To The Battle Front

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SHORT PLOT/CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis) Despite all the action of the novel, Crane's emphasis is on the Youth's psychological and unconscious response to the battlefront. Henry Fleming begins the novel as an untried youth with all the misconceptions and mystifications of war that boys are raised to believe; as a result, he eagerly joins the Union army. At first he enjoys military life as his regiment marches in parades before cheering civilians. Soon, however, the Youth is disappointed to realize that army life is boring drudgery. His regiment is marched, drilled, and halted repeatedly. He despairs that he will never see action. The build-up to the action magnifies his fears about being courageous in battle. Because of his fears, he becomes a loner, who is unable to enjoy the talk of his comrades. He grows morose and depressed. When he is sent to the front, he sees men running in the confusion of battle, and he begins to run himself. He finds himself in a forest where he tries to recover from his fear and anxiety. He emerges and stumbles upon a procession of wounded soldiers. He joins them and sees one…show more content…
This event occurs fairly early in the novel (Chapter 6) and is followed by an exploration of his guilt and shame about this desertion. The actual climax occurs in Chapter 12, when Henry receives a wound, his "red badge of courage." Ironically, this wound is inflicted by a fellow soldier who is frightened and fleeing from battle. When Henry tries to stop him to gain some information about what is going on in the battle, the soldier hits the Youth over the head with his rifle. From this point forward, however, things begin to sort out for Henry. He returns to his regiment, conquers his fear, goes back into battle, and even becomes an encourager to his fellow soldiers. In the end, Henry accepts himself as a human being, capable of weaknesses, and forgives himself for his previous
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