Course Hero. "The Red Badge of Courage Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage/>.
Course Hero. (2017, February 27). The Red Badge of Courage Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "The Red Badge of Courage Study Guide." February 27, 2017. Accessed February 25, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage/.
Course Hero, "The Red Badge of Courage Study Guide," February 27, 2017, accessed February 25, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage/.
It had suddenly appeared to him that perhaps in a battle he might run.
Hearing his regiment might go to battle the next day, Henry contemplates the news and realizes he does not know how he will act in a real battle. Before enlisting he had idealized war, and as a fresh solider he has listened to veterans' stories. Now faced with the prospect of a real battle, he is unsure of himself.
In the darkness he saw visions of a thousand-tongued fear that would babble at his back and cause him to flee, while others were going coolly about their country's business.
Henry cannot shake the fear that he will run when he is in an actual battle. After his regiment set up camp after a day of marching, he goes by himself into the gloom to continue brooding, wishing he were back home on the farm, realizing he is quite different from the soldiers around him.
The youth perceived that the time had come. He was about to be measured. For a moment, he felt in the face of his great trial like a babe, and the flesh over his heart seemed very thin.
Still deep in thought, despite running with his comrades, Henry realizes he is about to be tested. By calling himself a "babe," he refers to his youth and inexperience.
The youth wended, feeling that Nature was of his mind.
After Henry flees, he tries to justify his actions. He throws a pinecone at a squirrel, which scurries away up a tree. He sees the squirrel's reaction as a natural one in the face of danger and deems that by running away, he himself acted in a manner Nature intended men to act.
He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.
While walking away from the fighting with the wounded soldiers, Henry wishes he had a visible sign of injury, one that would prove he had stayed and fought bravely. In an example of situational irony Henry receives his red badge of courage by a fellow soldier who bashes him on the head with the butt of his rifle.
War, the red animal, war, the blood-swollen god, would have bloated fill.
This is the second time this phrase has been used to describe war (the first is in Chapter 3). It ties together the animal imagery used throughout the novel to describe the soldiers on both sides and the death and destruction caused by the brutality of the war.
There was shootin' here an' shootin' there, an' hollerin' here an' hollerin' there, in th' damn darkness, until I couldn't tell t' save m' soul which side I was on.
Thus the cheerful soldier recounts to Henry as he escorts him to his regiment. In doing he sums up the chaos of the fighting and provides the perspective of another soldier—one who stayed and fought—and corroborates the fleeing Henry's perception of the chaos of the fighting.
He was not going to be badgered of his life, like a kitten chased by boys, he said. It was not well to drive men into final corners; at those moments they could all develop teeth and claws.
The narrator here recounts Henry's angry thoughts as the enemy starts attacking his regiment. The first sentence reflects Henry's actions on the first day of battle, fleeing like a kitten. The "teeth and claws" refers to how Henry fights on the second day. By the end of the battle the lieutenant calls him a "wild cat."
It is a temporary but sublime absence of selfishness.
As the men engage in battle, they coalesce into a regiment with a unified goal. No longer are they individual men thinking solely of themselves.
He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death.
Henry has seen the death and destruction war causes and has found it to be empty of the glory and heroism of The Iliad. It is instead bodies rotting, men pushed to their psychological limits, disfiguring wounds, and meaningless fighting. Henry no longer glorifies war.