The Red Badge of Courage | Study Guide

Stephen Crane

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The Red Badge of Courage | Chapter 14 | Summary



When Henry firsts wakes up, he fears the other slumbering men are dead but comes to his senses when the men are awakened by the bugle. Henry's head feels like a melon, and he is irritated when Wilson fumbles with the bandage. Wilson doesn't mind the criticism and looks after Henry "with tenderness and care." Henry notices the "remarkable change" in Wilson, from the loud solider who was always trying to prove his point to one who "showed a quiet belief in his purposes and his abilities." Henry now realizes it will be easy to be Wilson's friend.


One day of fighting has had a profound effect on Wilson, who is transformed from a short-tempered, easily angered man to a more subdued person who is confident but not cocky. Wilson shows tenderness in taking care of Henry—dressing his wound, giving him his blankets, and making sure he eats and drinks—and breaks up a fight between two soldiers. Whereas previously he was self-centered and believed the whole world revolved around him, the death and destruction Wilson has witnessed and the belief that "Th' reg'ment lost over half th' men yestirday" have made him value life and realize he is part of a whole. In this sense Wilson takes on a maternal role among the men, caring for them as individuals and working to preserve life.

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