The Red Badge of Courage Questions and Answers
by Stephen Crane

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How is "The Red Badge of Courage" related to history? Red Bagde Of Courage by Stephen Crane

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hero5 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Historically war has taken on two perceptions, romantic ideals of war vs the realistic. This novel effectively portrays both of these ideas. In the beginning 'the youth' sees only the romantic ideas of war. He imagines himself the hero. He sees young girls swooning over his noble service. He feels taller, better, like a man, when he joins. The realistic images begin with his mother, but her worries seems silly to him. Reality hits him during the very fist battle in which he is ashamed at his cowardice. The realism grows deeper as the novel moves forward showing the reader that 'the youth' is wounded but not in a heroic fashion; however, he does not let others know how he was wounded. The romantic images return in the end as the youth moves forward to prove his actions heroic in the end. From a historic stand point this novel is very important in giving us both sides of the images of war.

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The Red Badge of courage was published in 1895, thirty years after the end of the Civil War.  It is very representative of the realism that dominated American literature in the late 1800's, and brought Stephen Crane not a small amount of money, as well as recognition.  While Stephen Crane had not seen any battles when he wrote the book, he was still able to create a realistic portrayal of the main character, Henry Flemming's, growth as a person and a soldier as he served the Union in the Civil War; veterans of the War Between the States gave Crane a great deal of credit for accurately capturing the emotions and horror of actual combat, as well as the drudgery of everyday life as a soldier.

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