The Red Badge of Courage

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ENGL 2703 – Assignment 1 The American Civil War was considered the bloodiest conflict in American History. ‘The war resolved two fundamental questions left unresolved by the revolution: whether the United States was to be a dissolvable confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slaveholding country in the world.’ It focused mainly on slavery and state rights. Stephen Crane writes about the Civil War in his book ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ from the eyes of a young raw recruit, Henry Fleming, who seeks adventure and a sense of independence. This extract from Stephen’s book occurs at the very beginning of Chapter 8 where in this chapter he talks mainly about the battle that Henry experiences as well as the many wounded and tattered soldiers as he carries on through the forest. Three main themes that stand out most in this extract from Stephen’s ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ are noise and silence, courage and self-delusion. The theme of noise and silence is seen very clearly in the first few paragraphs. In the first paragraph, Stephen writes about the silence and the stillness of the forest where the trees sing a hymn of twilight and the lull in the noises of the insects. Not long later the silence is broken in the second paragraph. The calm tranquil stillness of the forest is disturbed by the ‘tremendous clangor of sounds’ from the ‘ripping sound of musketry and the breaking crash of the artillery.’ This theme arises once again in the fifth paragraph where the silence has disappeared and is instead replaced with the ‘crackle and clatter of the earthshaking thunder.’ Another overarching theme in Stephen’s book is self-delusion. This is shown greatest in the main character, Henry Fleming, where his self-delusion

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