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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 413

Here are three important quotes from The Red Bandanna:

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What do you see there, in the red, white, and black? Is there something to the ancient pattern and the Persian fig shape, the paisley teardrop and the flat pointed stars? A child's thing, a trifle, a rag? (5).

When Welles Crowther was young, his father gave him a red bandanna. Welles always had it with him, even as a young adult. He wore a red bandanna many years later when he rescued people in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, after the towers had been struck by planes. The bandanna becomes a symbol of Welles's bravery. Though a bandanna is a simple object, it has a certain complexity in its pattern. This, perhaps, represents stands Welles's own complexity, including both his fear and his courage.

When the father signals, the sound cuts through all others like an arrow. It pierces the din, dropping into the son's ear. He hears and he turns back up to face the stands. He looks, and then delivers the smile, aimed toward the sound, and at the father, and into the lens (61).

When Welles was at graduation at Boston College, his father made a sound to get his son's attention. Though there were thousands of students, his father was able catch Welles's attention so that his father could take a picture. This code between father and son was symbolic of their tight and unending bond, as well as the values and courage were shared between father and son.

Maybe because he understood that if he went down, and left now, and looked away, they would be with him forever. Any of them, all of them, one of them. They were up there. He might make it down, he might rush out, he might gain the light. He might live. But would they? (127)

On September 11, 2001, Welles led a woman named Ling Young down the burning South Tower to safety while he carried another woman across his shoulder. He took them to safety, and then he decided to head back up the tower. He would have likely been able to get out alive at that point, but he decided instead to go back up the tower to save more people. This was a critical decision, and it points to Welles's incredible heroism. He wanted to save others before saving himself. As the author writes, Welles was haunted by what might happen to others, and this pushed him to extraordinary acts of bravery.

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