Red Badge of Courage Research Paper

2181 Words9 Pages
Psychology of Men at War

THESIS STATEMENT: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane exhibits how the desensitizing, dehumanizing, and depressing experience of war is more so mentally harmful, than it is physically harmful.

I. Introduction II. War is seen as the universal sign of manhood. A. War is seen as a rite of passage into manhood for boys. B. Henry went as far as pretending to be shot just to make the other soldiers think of him as brave. III. War will change a person's attitude, feelings, and outlook on life. A. Henry becomes desensitized because of the things he sees on the battlefield. B. Henry grows to be indifferent to life or death. IV. Most of the conflict in war is fought against the soldier's own mind.
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“They gazed about them with looks of uplifted pride, feeling new trust in the grim, always confident weapons in their hands. And they were men.”₃ This is a good example of, even though people do not like to admit it, war turns boys into men. “The youth had been taught that a man became another thing in battle. He saw his salvation in such a change.”⁴ One of the most apparent signs of manhood is the universal perception of "manliness" as bearing physical pain and not being phased by it. Henry wants the pride of the red badge so badly, that he is willing to lie to his fellow soldiers, the injured soldiers that have real red badges, from real courage, and to himself. “He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.”⁵ This shows how desperately he wishes to not be seen as a panicking child. If Henry so desperately needs this satisfaction, then he is lucky that it came about through a blow to the head, and not a bullet. However, Henry treats it as if it was a bullet, as do the other soldiers, and even the doctor. In fooling the doctor, Henry, somehow in his mind, is able to convince himself that he had been shot. The human mind is sometimes able to trick itself into genuinely believing in the things it thinks, and that is happening here. His brain is so convinced, that when he next enters battle, he is able to stand his ground and fight because he had been shot in the head and lived. He had seen the worst of it. If that couldn't
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