The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage book cover
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What is the point of view of this book? Could this book be anti-war or could it be a book that glorifies war or maybe neither? Heay guys PLEASE help me answer this question... It is kinda opinionated...

What is the point of view of this book? Could this book be anti-war or could it be a book that glorifies war or maybe neither?

Heay guys PLEASE help me answer this question... It is kinda opinionated but I would still like to see what you think... Thanks!!

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Kendall Bartell, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This book focuses on the problems of the individual. Crane was a Naturalist author. This school of thought believes that much of life is inescapable and this would include the cruelties of war. Crane wrote some stories regarding difficult social issues. He wrote about the difficulties of a young prostitute in a horrible situation in New York City slums. But even then he wasn’t centered on social commentary.

He instead wrote about how humans view themselves and their place in an unforgiving world. The Red Badge of Courage is a demonstration of the rationalizing power of weak humanity. This young soldier experiences the three great motivators, fear, pride and guilt. He explores his own place in this maelstrom by exaggerating his self-importance, cursing his misuse by generals and wallowing in self-pity. He is brought face to face with the realization that he is not very important.

What he does glorify is not warfare, but his own importance in the great thing in front of him. I believe it would be a bit of a stretch to label Crane’s intentions as “anti-war”.

\"A man said to the universe: \'Sir, I exist!\' \'However,\' replied the universe \'The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.

-- Stephan Crane

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bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The point of view is third person limited, so we know only what Henry Fleming, the main character, is thinking. We don't know what the other characters are thinking and feeling.

This book is mainly a coming-of-age story for Henry Fleming. He leaves his mother as an innocent boy eager to fight, glorifying and romanticizing war. Once he's wounded, he becomes so afraid that he leaves the battlefield. He does return to his unit, but he must lie to them because he's ashamed of deserting. By the end, Henry is much like a veteran soldier who understands what war is really like.

In no way does Crane glorify war in his book. Through Henry, we see the horrors of war. When he wanders into the forest, he sees death and the agony of war. Men have lost limbs and are so stunned by what has happened to them that they no longer seem able to function. This shocks Henry and confuses him, making him feel even more alone. Crane uses Henry to show his readers what war does to men and to show how senseless and cruel war is.

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malibrarian eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personally, when I read this book, I took it to be quite anti-war.  It delves into the loss of innocence of this young man, Henry Fleming, and the horrors he experiences during the Civil War.  He is like many young men who have a glorified idea of war - the honor, the chivalry, etc.  What he experienced was quite different - he experienced the harsh brutality of warfare.

I don't believe Crane glorified war at all.  I think he managed to portray warfare at its ugliness and most realistic, which was amazing considering the fact that he never fought in a war himself.

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sabbapal | Student

I think that it really changes. in the beginning, it glorifys war because he is all excited, and imagining how much honor he will recieve, but it really changes. he becomes scared about the prospect of war, and thinks of it as a thing to be dreaded as oppose to looking forward to it.

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