In The Red Badge of Courage, why has Crane chosen an obscure ending in which the war is not finished?
While the setting of Crane's novel is the Civil War, The Red Badge of Courage is an intensely psychological narrative that concerns itself mainly with the existential questions of a young man. Central to this novel, then, is not war, but the psychological growth and education of a proud, but naive young man. Therefore, whether the war is ended matters not because there will be more wars and more young men isolated by their abstract dreams in a materialistic bellicose society.
In addition to this aspect, the Realistic and, at times, Naturalistic style of Crane depicts a universe indifferent to peace or war. Moreover, the real war is within Henry Fielding himself, a youth of romantic illusions and other undefined impressions. In Chapter XXIV, the final chapter, Henry reflects upon the battle and is "enabled to more closely comprehend himself,"
He understood then that the existence of shot and counter–shot was in the past. He had dwelt in a land of strange, squalling upheavals and had...
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