The Red Badge of Courage

How has Wilson changed since the beginning of the novel? Why does the youth feel superior to Wilson?


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Wilson is initially known as "the loud soldier". He is brash and opinionated. Wilson's bravado is over the top. He seems itching to fight, “I said I was going to do my share of the fighting—that’s what I said. And I am, too..." Wilson's first foray into real battle changes him. He comes out a much kinder gentler Wilson. He nurses a wounded Henry and offers him his blanket. Henry notes that his friend is much changed, “He was no more a loud young soldier. There was now about him a fine reliance. He showed a quiet belief in his purpose and his abilities.” Wilson is an example of the maturation of the soldier. Battle quickly takes out the testosterone filled brashness of youth. The thin line between life and death makes Wilson, like most other seasoned soldiers, more reflective and quiet. Wilson's priorities are to himself and his brother's in arms. There is no time or energy left for mindless bravado. I think Henry felt superior in the sense that he (Henry) lacked the bravado to begin with.