The Red Badge of Courage

The Human Body as a Site of Traumatic Narrative in Ambrose Bierce and Stephen Crane’s Civil War Stories College

One of the more impactful means by which the experience of war is recreated for a civilian audience is through the illustration of the human body, with lived experience and relevant literature illustrating war as an entity so powerful that it physically brands trauma onto the of soldiers. Only beginning with the American Civil War do American veterans become symbolically representative of war, and it largely is due to the human body being transformed by war: firstly as an object of killing and secondly as a site of traumatic narrative. Civil War veteran and writer Ambrose Bierce provides an illustration of this concept in its earliest American context in his 1889 short story, Chickamauga, which is set during the historical battle of the same name (which Bierce was a witness and participant in). This particular work by Bierce is significant in that it specifically employs the human body as a means of creating an authentic illustration of both the soldier and the veteran of the Civil War. I intend to prove this argument by providing relevant contextual information about Bierce, analyzing the corporeal imagery within Chickamauga by order of narrative, and finally by comparing his impact on the language of war and trauma to that of...

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