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

Start Free Trial

Which quotes from chapters 11 and 15 of The Red Badge of Courage reflect Henry's experiences and thoughts about the future?

Quick answer:

I think the key quotes are: Henry's obsession with his own bravery and lack of bravery in chapter 11, as he observes the soldiers he has come to admire, and how he feels like a failure by comparison. Closing paragraph of Chapter 15 where Henry imagines the praise and glory that will be bestowed on him when he returns home, but which is a vain imagining as it never happens, or at least not in the way he hopes.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the key quotes for me from Chapter 11 concerns Henry watching the battle progressing from the safety of the sidelines and how the duty and bravery of the soldiers he watches impresses him so much that he is even more aware of his lack of bravery and courage....

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Note what this quote tells us about Henry:

As the youth looked at them the black weight of his woe returned to him. He felt that he was regarding a procession of chosen beings. The separation was as great to him as if they had marched with weapons of flame and banners of sunlight. He could never be like them. He could have wept in his longing.

We still see in this quote therefore that Henry is obsessed by his desire to prove himself to be brave in battle as he imagines it. The soldiers he is so impressed by are viewed by him as "chosen beings" and he almost wants to weep at the perceived gap between himself and the soldiers he idolises.

In Chapter 15, I would probably choose the last paragraph, where he feels superior to Wilson after returning his letter to him, and begins to imagine the glory and praise he will receive back home when he tells friends and family his stories:

He saw his gaping audience picturing him as the central figure in blazing scenes. And he imagined the consternation and the ejaculations of his mother and the young lady at the seminary as they drank his recitals. Their vague feminine formula for beloved ones doing brave deeds on the field of battle without risk of life would be destroyed.

From the start of the novel, Henry has sought the praise and attention of others through his hero status, and here we see him doing precisely the same thing, as he glories in the heroic status that he has not actually yet achieved. We still seem him fixated on a romantic and innacurate notion of battle that experiences have yet to take away.

Approved by eNotes Editorial