Illustration of Henry Fleming in a soldier's uniform in front of a confederate flag and an American flag

The Red Badge of Courage

by Stephen Crane

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Is the conflict of Red Badge of Courage man vs. fate?

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The main conflict in the novel 'The Red Badge Of Courage' is an internal one relating to the main character, Henry, who fears that he will not perform well in his first battle. He is conflicted because he loves the idea of the bravery and heroism and glory of being a champion soldier but is also frightened by the prospect. What he doesn't realise is that it is perfectly normal and usual to experience fear in the face of possible death at the hands of angry rebels - but that it is more how you handle that rational fear that counts. His conflict is complicated by the other conflicts (that of war with the Confederates).

The word 'destiny' would be better than 'fate' here because the cheering outcome of the novel is that he eventually does lead soldiers in to battle and realises that he can fulfil his own personal destiny as a valued soldier after all. The more global destiny of the United States of America is of course a highly worthy theme to study too, as the country has gone on to become a super power and world leader.

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