Think about the function of the Tattered Soldier in The Red Badge of Courage. How does he reflect Henry's earlier attitude toward war? How does he embody Henry's notion of the ideal soldier? How...

Think about the function of the Tattered Soldier in The Red Badge of Courage. How does he reflect Henry's earlier attitude toward war? How does he embody Henry's notion of the ideal soldier? How does he serve as a reproach to Henry?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Tattered Soldier expresses the same attitudes about the glory of war and the courage of fighting men that Henry had in the the beginning of the story.  He recalls with "humble admiration...how (the fellers) did fight" in the battle just concluded, and he retains "a light of love for the army which was to him all things beautiful and powerful" (Ch.VIII).  Henry too had at first envisioned war as something glorious; he had "dreamed of battles all his life", envisioning "pictures...lurid with breathless deeds" (Ch. I).  Henry's experience of war, however, has left him disillusioned and unsure of his own strength of character.   He has found that war is most definitely not glorious, and that his conduct under fire has not been something of which he can be proud.

The Tattered Soldier embodies Henry's notion of the ideal soldier because he has been in battle and emerged confident that he has conducted himself honorably under fire.  He knows that, with his comrades, he "didn't run...(he) fit, an fit, an fit" (Ch.VIII).  The Tattered Soldier has earned his "red badge of courage", two wounds that prove he has fought bravely and lived to tell about it.  He serves as a reproach to Henry, who has no wound of his own to prove his mettle.  Henry has found war to be nothing but confusion and horror, and when the battle started, he, unlike the Tattered Soldier, ran away (Ch.X).

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The Red Badge of Courage

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