Why doesn't the youth run away when he sees the retreating men in The Red Badge of Courage?
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Before Henry and his regiment are attacked by the Confederates, they witness an undisciplined "retreat" by another group of Union soldiers, and they realize that "the whole command was fleeing." Henry and his comrades looked on in horror, but the veteran soldiers of the other regiments began to "jeer" with "loud catcalls and bits of facetious advice concerning places of safety." As for Henry, he knew that he may well have joined the others in their wild run if not for the condition of his own legs. The fear seen in the faces of these men
... made the youth feel that forceful hands from heaven would not have been able to have held him in place if he could have got intelligent control of his legs. (Chapter IV)
Henry's legs were so uncertain that he was unable to run at that time. Henry also knew that his regiment, as part of the reserves, "had to hold on." More importantly, Henry had not yet caught sight of the enemy--"the composite monster."
He resolved to get a view of it, and then, he thought he might very likely run better than the best of them. (Chapter IV)
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