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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What is the motive of heroism in The Red Badge of Courage?

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One of the ways that the approach to courage and heroism in The Red Badge of Courage is so powerful is that Henry does not immediately accept his role as a hero or even as a brave soldier.  The description of his inner emotions during the first battle all the way to the last give the reader a clear picture of the emotional battlefield that he fights in so that he can actually approach a battle with something like what people consider outward courage.

With the image of the head wound, the "red badge of courage," Henry's transition to being a brave soldier is complete, but the reader has that clear map of how he got there by challenging his fears and learning to manage them.

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