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Adolescence in Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane Essay examples

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Adolescence in Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Adolescence brings about many changes as a youth becomes an adult. For many people this passage is either tedious and painful or simple and barely noticeable. The anguish and torture that is usually associated with rites of passage and growing up is visible is Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the novel reveals how the atrocities of war precipitate emotional growth and maturity, as well as acts dignity, individualism, and, of course, courage. In the course of the novel, Henry Fleming, a young soldier from New York State, gives up his romantic dreams of war once he makes it through the trials of battle and begins to
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. . that perhaps in a battle he might run. He was forced to admit that as far as war was concerned he knew nothing of himself" (10). Eventually, Henry faces his ultimate enemy—himself. Henry wants to be a legendary hero like the ones he has read about, but at the same time, his fears nag at him, making him doubt his own self-confidence. He later questions his fellow soldiers in an attempt to gain some confirmation on his anxieties and wonders whether they will accept him later should he run from the battle. Such questions suggest the constant dilemma experienced by inexperienced, young adolescence, such as conformity, peer pressure, and acceptance. Crane communicates the initial stage of Henry's transformation when Henry expresses uncertainty of who he is. At last, Henry becomes increasingly aware of the laws of nature and that can not escape death. Henry fights well in the first battle against the rebels, but during the second clash, he loses his nerve and flees in terror thinking that he is about to be eaten by "a red and green monster", or the monster of death. To reorganize his thoughts, he walks deeper into the woods not to learn from nature, but to justify his running from danger by a squirrel running away from a thrown pinecone. He then comes across a dead man leaning beside a tree. Crane notes Henry's reaction to the corpse: "The youth gave a shriek as he confronted the thing. He was for moments turned to
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