Illustration of Henry Fleming in a soldier's uniform in front of a confederate flag and an American flag

The Red Badge of Courage

by Stephen Crane
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Upon seeing the dead soldier, the youth tried to read in dead eyes the answer to the question. What was the Question?

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I assume that you are talking about what happens in Chapter 3.

In this chapter, the youth and his unit are advancing into battle.  As they do, the open their ranks to avoid the dead body of a Confederate soldier.  When they do this, the youth has this impulse -- he wants to look into the soldier's eyes and find the answer to "the Question."

Crane does not tell us what the question is, but I think if you look at the whole phrase, you can tell.  The phrase is

the impulse of the living to try to read in dead eyes the answer to the Question.

So this is a question all living people wonder about with regard to dead people.  I assume the question is "what happens after we die?"  The dead know the answer, those of us who are living can only wonder.

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