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 does Henry do once the battle begins in The Red Badge of Courage? What does he know about the war's reasons?

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When the first battle begins Henry stays with the men and follows orders; however, Henry does not fire his gun. Rather, he freezes and can not stop watching what is happening around him as if he is a spectator. Henry knows nothing of the real reasons that the war is being fought. The only thing Henry understands is that all the young men are joining up to fight. He has a very romanticized view of war at the beginning of the novel and all he can see as he goes off to fight is how others must view him as this brave, grown man. He fantasizes about being a hero and courageous and does not see things past this level of understanding until much later.

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