The Red Badge of Courage | Study Guide

Stephen Crane

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The Red Badge of Courage | Chapter 13 | Summary



As Henry nears his regiment, he fears he will be ridiculed by his comrades, but he is too tired and hungry to come up with a story. Wilson, the loud soldier, is on guard duty and is relieved to see Henry is alive. Henry invents a story about being separated from the regiment, somehow ending up right where the fighting was intense, and getting shot. Simpson, the corporal, examines Henry's head wound and says the bullet grazed him and "left a lump jest as if some feller had lammed yeh on th' head with a club."

When Wilson gets off guard duty, he gives Henry some coffee and binds his head. He calls Henry a "good un" because Henry is not complaining about his injury or running off to the hospital. Wilson gives Henry his blankets, and Henry falls into a deep sleep.


Henry is surprised his comrades believe his story about his fighting on the right and being shot in the head. While fleeing and observing the fighting from a vantage point, Henry was able to see where the fighting was the most intense, and he is able to use this information to craft his lie. Simpson's comment is an example of dramatic irony: Henry's wound looks like it was caused by a club because it was caused by a club. As a result of his red badge of courage, Henry is treated with respect and kindness by Wilson and Simpson.

In some sense Henry's fiction transforms him into the soldier and the man he is destined to be. He speaks his new identity into being, giving himself a red badge of courage that binds him with the other soldiers as he enters the rejuvenating state of sleep.

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