In The Red Badge of Courage, why does Henry Fleming grow angry at Dave?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have reviewed the entire novel and can find no evidence of any character named Dave in The Red Badge of Courage. Henry shows bursts of anger throughout the novel toward both the enemy and his own comrades. He has an argument with Jim Conklin in Chapter I concerning how the men will fare in battle. When Jim suggests that some of the men may run, Henry is not happy.

The other turned savagely upon him. They had a rapid altercation, in which they fastened upon each other various strange epithets.

Henry is often angry with Wilson. They exchange sharp words in Chapter II, again over the issue of how they will each react when they first come under fire.

     “Oh, shucks!” said the youth. “You ain't the bravest man in the world, are you?”
     “No, I ain't,” exclaimed the loud soldier indignantly; “and I didn't say I was the bravest man in the world, neither. I said I was going to do my share of fighting—that's what I said. And I am, too. Who are you, anyhow? You talk as if you thought you was Napoleon Bonaparte.” He glared at the youth for a moment, and then strode away.
     The youth called in a savage voice after his comrade: “Well, you needn't git mad about it!” But the other continued on his way and made no reply.

Henry becomes angry again with Wilson in Chapter XIV the morning after he has returned "wounded" to the regiment, and there are other examples where the two friends argue, usually in nervous expectation of the next charge by Confederate troops.

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The Red Badge of Courage

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