What do you think the weather is a symbol of in The Red Badge of Courage?
In the final two paragraphs of the story, it rains and then turns to sunshine. The weather is used here as a symbol--an object, place, or concept (in this case the weather) used in literature to represent something more important. What do you think the weather is a symbol of?
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You are definitely right to identify the weather at the close of this tremendous tale as a symbol. It is vitally important to consider what has just happened. Henry has just experienced a kind of coming-of-age that has allowed him to integrate both his good and bad exploits. As a result of this he realises that he is a man as he feels "a quiet manhood" take possession of him. The moral transformation that has occurred throughout the novel is now complete and now that he has touched "the great death," he is "a man."
Thus it is highly symbolic that it is raining as the soldiers march off. Consider Henry's response to the rain, which is different from the despondency of the rest of his comrades:
Yet the youth smiled, for he saw that the world was a world for him, though many discovered it to be made of oaths and walkign sticks. He had rid himself of the red sickness of battle. The sultry nightmare was in the past. He had been an animal blistered and sweating in teh heat and pain of war. He turned now with a lover's thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks--an existence of soft and eternal peace.
Rain is a symbol of life-giving water, which is necessary for growth and the sustenance of life. This, combined with the "golden ray of sun" that penetrates the clouds, gives the ending of this tale an optomistic tone, as Henry marches off with his new-found confidence and appreciation of life.
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