The Red Badge of Courage

By the close of Chapter 16, Henry has become much like the old Wilson ("the loud soldier" of earlier chapters), while the "new" Wilson has become more like Jim Conklin. What has caused the shift in their positions?

Thanks for the help!

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

The relationship and contrast between Henry and Wilson is evidenced by the change in Wilson’s denoted name. "The loud soldier" is no more and now he is “the friend.” Henry, still “the youth,” notes that before the battle Wilson was quick to tout his prowess but Wilson has clearly been humbled by what he has seen. Henry, however, has not matured enough. He persists in preserving the secret of his flight. He even yells at Wilson as the latter tries to change his bandages. Wilson remains calm while Henry cannot restrain his own expressions of irritation at small things. He does not recognize that others are glad to see that he is alive. When Wilson talks about troops coming back and how they were thankfully not dead, Henry says, "so?" in a very callous way. He has not learned the same lessons that Wilson has because he has not been through the same experiences as his friend. Henry is still stumbling blindly on the path to maturity.

Henry is full of words for one of the few times in this book while on the trench line. He complains about the generals to his friend and later complains about being marched around only to be led to eventual defeat. The sarcastic man bites off his comments with a simple insult about his battle prowess. This quiets Henry for a time as he suspects his indiscretion is about to come to light. When the moment passes, he begins to rail out again. When Wilson, now mature, tries to say that everything will turn out okay in the end and to think positively, Henry snaps at him that it will not. Henry is now the “loud soldier,” speaking shallowly and without maturity.