What news does one soldier bring back and tell everyone? Is it reliable? How do we know if it is or isnt?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When "a certain tall soldier" in Stephen Crane's novel, The Red Badge of Courage, decided to visit a nearby brook to wash his shirt, he overheard news that would stir the entire camp.

He was swelled with a tale he had heard from a reliable friend, who had heard it from a truthful cavalryman, who had heard it from his trustworthy brother, one of the orderlies at division headquarters. He adopted the important air of a herald in red and gold.

When the tall soldier returned to tell his story, it was met with skepticism, for stories of this kind had been circulating for months, and none had proved to be true.

    “We're goin' t' move t' morrah—sure,” he said pompously to a group in the company street. “We're goin' 'way up the river, cut across, an' come around in behint 'em.”

His camp mates jeered and ridiculed him, but the tall soldier kept to his story.

    “What's up, Jim?”
    “Th' army's goin' t' move.”
    “Ah, what yeh talkin' about? How yeh know it is?”
    “Well, yeh kin b'lieve me er not, jest as yeh like. I don't care a hang.”

To Jim Conklin, the tall soldier, the information was reliable in spite of the other many rumors which had proved false. But later in Chapter One, we discover that the regiment will indeed move out, proving Conklin's tale true.