The Red Badge of Courage

Not Quite a Hero

After reading Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, one is faced with the question regarding whether young Henry Fleming is indeed, a hero, or if he, in fact, has changed through the course of the novel. I believe that the young soldier has definitely changed by the end of the novel. He has a new-found sense of assurance and confidence. He is able to study his deeds, his achievemnents, and his failures by the novel's end, and see them with a bit more clarity.

However, the fact that Fleming has changed as a character does not grant him the high stature of a hero. By the end of the novel, it is abundantly clear to the reader that the protagonist of our novel has won a coward's victory. At no point in the war was he fighting the enemy, but, rather, he was in a constant battle with his fear. Fleming did what any man would be expected to do: he dealt with the situation he was thrown into in an uniquely human manner. By the novel's end, he comes to the realization that in war, he is not in complete control of his actions, but, rather, he is but a mere pawn acting in accordance with the laws of nature.

Although I do not consider Fleming a hero is the traditional sense of the word, in Crane's novel, a novel in...

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