Explain how Henry and Wilson grow in the course of the novel including events in their development. Why do you think they are paired?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henry begins the story as a young man, naive and self-centered, his primary goal in fighting in the war being to bring himself glory and immortality.  He's not especially interested in the issues that have divided the country.  Henry begins his quest for glory by running from battle; his attitude is that the men who stayed to fight were basically idiots who didn't know any better.  Ironically, Henry begins to earn the reputation he so desperately wanted when he forgets about it.  When he finally faces and participates in battle, he forgets himself and becomes part of the whole, and as he grows in maturity, he becomes more reflective of his responsibility to his fellow soldiers and to himself.  Wilson is a loud, obnoxious fellow who is ready to fight, and like Henry, is just a young man who's not entirely sure what in the world he's doing.  Battle makes Wilson quieter, and more reflective, and he shows some caring for his friend as well.  His growth in character seems to come from a certain wisdom that is learned from putting oneself in harm's way for a greater cause.  These two are effective foils for one another, as they are essentially kids with very different personalities who face death and undergo profound, yet different changes in their characters.   

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The Red Badge of Courage

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