What's the effect of Crane's use of general rather than the specific in character and place names and the time?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe Stephen Crane chose to keep many of his The Red Badge of Courage characters anonymous in part because of the nature of war and death. On the battlefield, bullets do not pick and choose their targets; the very bravest soldier can die just as quickly as the coward who fails to do his duty. Officers, who in the Civil War often led at the forefront of charges to inspire their men, were just as likely to be killed as the enlisted men. By referring to the characters as The Youth and The Tall Soldier, for example, they retain their anonymity as just another soldier among the thousands. Crane never specifically identifies the year or the battle (although it is believed to be the overwhelming Confederate victory at Chancellorsville in 1863), probably to show that it was just another small segment of a battle in a war full of bloody engagements. By never identifying the battle, it signifies the event as one that could have happened anywhere at any time. Crane's naturalistic style requires a detachment that is evident throughout the novel.

sabbapal | Student

It makes it seem more real, because it's not like you would look at your watch, say I went to battle at 5:00, and write that in a journal, and then start shooting.

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The Red Badge of Courage

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