Why does Henry want to be killed directly in The Red Badge of Courage? In chapters 3-5 Why does Henry think "it would be better to get killed directly"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Henry has very romantic ideas about war when he first gets started.  The reality of war does not hit him until later in the book.  Then he begins to get depressed.  He sees the carnage on the battlefield, and decides it's better to be dead than injured.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Henry was worried about many things, including how he would react under attack and whether he would "skedaddle" under fire. He also questioned the leadership capabilities of his officers and whether his comrades were worthy of being trusted with his life. Death would solve these problems, and he believed it would be a welcome "rest."

     Once he thought he had concluded that it would be better to get killed directly and end his troubles. Regarding death thus out of the corner of his eye, he conceived it to be nothing but rest... He would die; he would go to some place where he would be understood. It was useless to expect appreciation of his profound and fine sense from such men as the lieutenant. He must look to the grave for comprehension.  (Chapter 3)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial