Symbolism in Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage Essay

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In the novel The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephan Crane, the author uses symbolism to illustrate the main character’s actions and the setting’s scenery. Henry Fleming, the protagonist of the novel, cannot decide whether he can be a hero or if he will fall as a coward. The symbolism used in The Red Badge of Courage represents Henry’s decision to fight proudly and how common items mean more than what meets the eye. Stephan Crane was born in 1871 in New Jersey. At the age of twenty-two, he published his first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Later on, Crane wrote sketches and short stories for newspapers in New York. It was not until his second novel, The Red Badge of Courage, got published in 1895 that he became a well-known…show more content…
Henry runs until he sees a dead soldier. Henry decides to go back to find his regiment but he finds a group that is taking care of wounded soldiers. He finds Jim Conklin as one of the wounded soldiers and cares for him along with a tattered soldier. Jim later dies and Henry is left alone with the tattered soldier alone in the woods. Henry leaves the tattered soldier to die alone in the forest because of him asking Henry too many questions about a wound that Henry does not have. Afterward, Henry is reunited with his regiment. In revenge for Jim Conklin’s death, Henry finds his inner courage and fights in the next battle alongside his friend, Wilson. He and Wilson fight until the end. Henry decides to hold the flag during the next battles that they win. At the end, Henry feels guilty for leaving the tattered soldier to die alone but decides to put it behind him because of all the good that he had done during the battles.

For every time Henry was discouraged in this short novel, something pushed him back to positive thinking for himself. Joseph Conrad, a writer, says, “the greatest decision that Henry made was running from battle…that brought about finding the dead soldier” (143). During the beginning of the novel, Henry flees at a second battle. He runs deep into the forest in which the battle is taking place. He finds a tree that Crane describes as “a chapel.” In this chapel, Henry finds a dead soldier. At this vital point, Henry
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