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How does Henry perform during the first attack and the second attack in The Red Badge...

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dudewhite | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:19 AM via web

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How does Henry perform during the first attack and the second attack in The Red Badge of Courage?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 18, 2010 at 2:52 AM (Answer #1)

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Although Henry battles his fear of the unknown during the first Confederate attack, he stands his ground with the rest of his comrades and celebrates this short, initial victory. He is relieved to have withstood the pressure of his first taste of combat, and he holds fast in part because the rest of the men have done the same. Henry revels in being part of a larger unit, and he deeply wishes to do his part. He is jealous of the men wounded in the first attack, for they have earned their "little red badge" by doing their duty. However, when the second and more powerful attack comes, Henry's doubts surface once again. He wonders if his little outfit can withstand such a relentless enemy, and when he sees other men begin to run, he does the same. He runs away out of the innate human need for survival: Fear and self-doubt overwhelm him, emotions which become more important than his desire to be a good soldier.

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