The Red Badge of Courage

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Nefertiti Mclaurin ENG 1123 Mr. Ellenburg October 17, 2012 Thesis: In the novel “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane the protagonist, Henry Fleming, is transitioned from being an immature adolescent to a mature young man; which creates a difference in Henrys inability to know how one will react when faced with great danger. I. Claim: Henry’s initial behavior to war identifies him as a youth. Evidence: He displays his youth by lacking courage Evidence: Crane writes “When that horrifying realization hit him, Henry gave a frightful yell. He jumped up, threw down his rifle then sped to the rear in great leaps.” (pg.66) Interpretation: By lacking the true knowledge of war, Henry shows how immature he really is by running from the battlefield. II. Claim: Henry’s last name could mean coward and hero. Evidence: In Sadler’s article he states that "Fleming," when used as a verbal substantive, means "one who puts to flight."(pg.373) Evidence: Sadler also writes, “In each successive appearance of his surname Henry progresses from a fear of exposure and humiliation to a final acceptance of the consequences of his fall until, in a moment of congratulatory praise, he emerges as a hero. After that moment his surname disappears from the novel. ‘Fleming’ does not become a synonym for coward because no one in the novel, except Henry himself, discovers his cowardice. (pg.376) Evidence: Throughout the novel only eight references are made to ‘Fleming’. Three of these are linked to ‘cowardice’ and five to ‘courage’ (376). Interpretation: The reason behind Henry running could be that his last name means to flee, but it also could be the same reason he went back in the end and emerged a hero. A Hero or a Coward? A question soldiers probably ask themselves when they are head into battle is, will they stay and fight bravely or will they
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