How does Henry describe his months in the camp in The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane?
Henry Fleming, a young soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, describes his first months in the army as a "monotonous life in camp."
During these months waiting for an assignment, Henry has begun to perceive himself as merely a part of "a vast blue demonstration." Each day the soldiers are drilled and drilled and reviewed; then, they are again drilled, drilled, and reviewed in what becomes tedious repetition. Added to this, random soldiers return to camp, shouting some news that they have supposedly learned. One day, a tall soldier comes running into camp, waving his shirt as though it were a banner. He shouts,
"We're goin' t'move t'morrah--sure....We're goin' 'way up river, cut across, an' come around in behint 'em."
One of the soldiers claims, "It's a lie! that's all it is--a thunderin' lie!" He adds that he does not believe that the troop will ever move. Later on in the day, this information does prove to be false, and the troop remains in the same location.
While the men wait for orders, Henry tries to measure himself against the others, wondering if they also have doubts about their own courage. Then, one day Henry surprisingly finds himself moving along with the troops. While the other soldiers seem relieved and happy, he is still despondent. A soldier named Wilson exclaims about the upcoming fight, "We'll lick 'em good!"
That evening, as the soldiers bed down, Henry nostalgically thinks of home and the farm; he misses the brindle cow and her mates that he had to milk, even though he sometimes kicked the milking stools in exasperation with the uncooperative bovines. Lying in a strange place, he now feels that he is not meant to be a soldier. As Henry muses, Wilson approaches, sits, and lights his pipe.
"You're getting blue, my boy. You're looking thundering peek-ed. What the dickens is wrong with you?"
"We've got 'em now. At last, by the eternal thunders, we'll lick 'em good!" Wilson reiterates, but he admits that the rebels have been winning against them.
The regiment continues to march for another three days, but more hurriedly. Henry returns wearily to his theory of a "blue demonstration." One morning he is awakened by a kick in the leg. "He was about to be measured."
check Approved by eNotes Editorial