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The Transformation of Henry Fleming in The Red Badge of Courage

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The Transformation of Henry Fleming in The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane's purpose in writing The Red Badge of Courage was to dictate the pressures faced by the prototypical American soldier in the Civil War. His intent was accomplished by making known the horrors and atrocities seen by Unionist Henry Fleming during the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the conflicts within himself.

Among the death and repulsion of war, there exists a single refuge for the warrior--his brethren. The success of combat is directly related to the morale of the soldiers, as it is the relationship with the neighboring soldier that demonstrates the motive for fighting. This association between men creates an abundance of
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The man that bets on my running will lose his money..." Henry listened to these annotations steadfastly, still questioning himself if he were going to run, swept up in the compulsion of the group. Upon Henry's first time seeing a corpse, he felt cold and alone, convincing himself that the other members of the group believed the same. The opinions of the group, once again, had a grand influence on Henry's ability to mature, as he lost control of personally discrete opinions, fearing "the lurking menaces of the future."

Anecdotes from the group also influenced Henry's maturation. In contrast to reality, the boastings of the men imply an upholding of a fable of war; that is, the group can succeed without the individual. An unmerited comment from a soldier stated, "I met one of th' 148th Maine boys an' he ses his brigade fit th' hull rebel army fer four hours over on th' turnpike road an' killed about five thousand of `em." As well, a man named Bill was said to have been sent to the hospital because he was "scared"; however, the men argue this valid statement, saying, "He was jest mad, that's what he was." Battle soon breaks out--in which the group arises as the victor with the aid of the individual. Conversely, the pressure of this battle serves as an injunction to Henry, who, after seeing those around him run from combat (in reference to a
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