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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In what ways do you think the qualities Henry shows in battle in The Red Badge of Courage would be useful in war today? Explain.

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Most of Henry's qualities in The Red Badge of Courage would serve positively with soldiers today. In the early chapters, Henry suffered from a fear of the unknown: how he would react once he was under fire. His attitudes would not differ from untried soldiers facing their first combat today. After his initial flight, Henry managed to control most of his fears, determining to due his duty and honor not only his own character but his unit as well. His impetuous forward movement against the enemy which earned him so much praise from his fellow soldiers would not be a particularly beneficial quality today, but his heroism did inspire the other men. Perhaps his best attritbute was his clear thinking when he picked up the standard and maintained it in the forefront of the attack. It showed nerve and bravery, but it also was a needed action. This kind of positive, quick thinking under fire would be heralded today just as it was during the Civil War, and Henry's desire to work as a part of the larger unit is something that is instilled in all modern military participants.

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