The Red Badge of Courage | Study Guide

Stephen Crane

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Course Hero. "The Red Badge of Courage Study Guide." February 27, 2017. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage/.

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Course Hero, "The Red Badge of Courage Study Guide," February 27, 2017, accessed November 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage/.

The Red Badge of Courage | Chapter 23 | Summary

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Summary

The colonel orders the men to charge the enemy, and Henry is surprised to see that the men have rallied themselves to do so. Henry leads the charge and his comrades have "grown suddenly wild with an enthusiasm of unselfishness." A "wild battle madness" overtakes Henry as he envisions the clash between the two armies. But then he perceives that many of the men in gray are retreating, except for a little band with a flag that refused to move. Henry keeps his eye on the enemy flag, prizing it. The men in gray are riddled by bullets but remain fighting. Henry watches as the Confederate color bearer, who had been mortally shot, valiantly tries to protect his flag. Wilson jumps the fences and wrenches the flag from the color bearer, who collapses and dies. The men celebrate their victory and four Confederate soldiers are taken prisoner. The men rest along the fence, and Wilson and Fleming congratulate each other.

Analysis

Again, Henry leads the charge and exhibits bravery, courage, and disregard for bullets. While he envisions a clash with the enemy, it is based in reality and not an idealized version of war. The animal imagery that previously described the enemy troops now describes Henry and his comrades as they rush toward the fighting.

Pleased to see the enemy retreating, Henry realizes the standard bearer for the Confederate regiment is making every attempt to stand firmly in place. There may be a moment of recognition between the two flag bearers here. Both are human soldiers intent on upholding their duties, and there is perhaps a mutual respect in that. Nonetheless, it is war, and both cannot survive. Henry's goal is to capture the enemy's flag, but Wilson manages to grab it. In another sign of maturity Henry is pleased with Wilson's success as it represents the regiment's success; the fighting is perceived as a team effort and the men are no longer individuals but part of a whole.

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