Henry's mental flips tumble back and forth from guilt and shame to innocence and pride. Why?( of what is he trying to covince himself in this up/down, positive/negative vacillating? Ch 11)

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hero5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 11 Henry realizes that he is not the only soldier to have fled. He finds comfort in this and his pride returns knowing that the other soldiers felt the same. Mostly his emotions are controlled by what is currently going on around him. As he sees the soldiers leave, defeated, he feels better. When he sees other soldiers marching in to continue the battle he is ashamed again.

Henry is comforted when he sees his fellow soldiers in retreat, feeling he is not the only one that has fled the battlefield. He sits down and watches the "terror- stricken wagons" that move "like soft, ungainly animals." Then he notices another procession of soldiers moving into battle, and his depression returns. He views the advancing soldiers as chosen beings and is envious of and isolated from them.

This shows his constant inner struggle to justify what he has done in fleeing and the disappointment he feels in himself for not fitting that glorified, romantic image he had of himself as a soldier. The conflict in The Red Badge of Courage is all about man vs self. Henry's roller coaster of emotions are what make up the plot of this story. It is not so much about the war or a battle. It's about the character's reactions to and self reflections about these things so the reader is going to see all the varying emotions as Henry tries to decide what he needs to do and what he is capable of doing.

sabbapal | Student

He just goes through so much over the course of the book, his mental being if you will is constantly changing depending on what he has seen, done, is seeing, and is doing.

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The Red Badge of Courage

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