The red bad of courage Henry Fleming

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Young Henry Fleming enters the army with dreams of grandeur and victory. He wants to be a hero and to be regarded as a brave soldier. However, when the time comes to fight, Henry starts having doubts about his courage. He does not know whether he will run and hide or stay and fight. During his first battle, Henry's regiment is victorious, making Henry believe that his fears were baseless. However, when the opposite battalion attacks again, Henry flees just as many other soldiers do. Henry's internal struggle regarding courage introduces the main plot and conflict of the book. As he escapes, Henry tells himself that he had made the right decision by saving his own life from imminent death. However, he later finds out that his regiment was able to hold back the enemy. Ashamed of himself, Henry joins a group of wounded soldiers in their march. Henry is aware that he is the only one who is not hurt and finds himself wishing that he had been shot in order to wear his injury as a badge of courage. In a sudden turmoil, Henry gets hit on the head opening a bloody gash. When he returns to this regiment, he makes his comrades believe that he was actually shot, to hide the fact that he had escaped from battle. As Henry rejoins his regiment, he fights fiercely and courageously. The climax of the plot occurs when Henry and Wilson lead their regiment to victory; consequently, they take the enemy's flag and capture four soldiers. The 304th regiment is officially victorious and Henry Fleming reflects upon his past and present decisions. During the resolution, Henry admits that, while he is not proud of his past decisions, he can be sure that he is, in fact, a courageous and brave person. (313 words)

Characterization

Henry Fleming: Henry is a young soldier who enters the army in order to fight in the Civil War. He has

great thoughts of glory and honor. This young man who struggles to find his inner courage is the protagonist of the story. Henry's goal as a protagonist is to fight with his regiment and win some battles; however, as a novice, he experiences fear of death and defeat. As he is widely described by Stephen Crane throughout the book, Henry Fleming is a round character. Because he experiences a wide array of emotions during the war, Henry is a complex character. Henry is not the typical courageous hero that fights despite imminent defeat; he feels fear, anger, guilt, gratefulness, and finally, victory. Henry Fleming has an external conflict; he has to fight a war in which his regiment has very few chances of winning. However, Henry's main conflict is internal. Henry's initial dreams of triumph falter when he starts wondering about his own courage. There is a moment where he realizes that he "had never wished to come to war" (33) and insisted that he had been involuntarily enlisted by the merciless government. However, when the time comes to fight, he forgets all about his fears and fights hard. It is when the enemy attacks again that he feels his survival instinct kick in and runs away, telling himself that those who were still fighting were brainless for staying when death was looming over their heads. Henry's internal conflict stays with him when he encounters wounded soldiers, feeling shame at his own body's good condition, and when he hides his escape from his comrades. His conflict is resolved after he wins the last battle, "he begins to study his deeds, his failures, and his achievements" (202) and decides that he is courageous despite his past actions. Henry Fleming is a dynamic character as he changes from fearful young soldier to victorious veteran. Henry dies several years later when, in an act of heroism, he tries to rescue two colts from a barn on fire. (343 words)

Wilson: Wilson is a soldier who is also from the 304th regiment; he likes everything done his own way. Wilson, appropriately dubbed "The Loud Soldier" (17), is a secondary character of the story. He is very opinionated and is not scared of expressing his ideas, without thinking about the consequences. As he is vaguely described by Stephen Crane, Wilson is a flat character. However, Wilson is also complex because although he shows a façade of courage, he is also scared of death. The loud soldier expresses his certainty of the 304th regiment's victory. But, just before the fight, he breaks down in a "quavering sob of pity for himself" (42) and asks Henry to give a packet to his family; Wilson thinks that it would be the last battle, ending in his own death. Wilson's main conflict is external; he fights in the Civil War against a very powerful enemy. Some officers consider his regiment a weak one, and Wilson fights assiduously to prove those officers wrong. He plays an important role in the defeat of the enemy in the last battle, when the 304th regiment captures four prisoners and takes the enemy flag. Wilson changes throughout the story making him a dynamic character. While at first he is loud, overly confident, and cantankerous, war changes him into a wiser and more helpful man. He helps Henry when the latter reappears at the regiment's camp site after being wounded. Wilson's function as a symbol of righteousness helps Henry understand what it means to be courageous. After the enemy's defeat, Wilson is "jubilant and glorified" (199). Henry and he congratulate each other after an obvious victory. (274 words)

The tattered soldier: The tattered soldier is "fouled with dust, blood and powder stain from hair to shoes" (80). The tattered man, part of the troop full of injured men, is a secondary character. The soldier tries to strike up a conversation with Henry, asking him about the fight. However, Henry tries to ignore him, in order to avoid revealing that he hadn't fought at all. As he is hardly described by Stephen Crane, the tattered soldier is a flat character. This man is also not complex because not much is known about him. He is just a private who wants someone to talk to on his last moments of life. The tattered soldier's main conflict is external, after fighting a good battle, he ends up with "two wounds, one in the head, bound with a blood-soaked rag, and the other in the arm, making that member dangle like a broken bough" (80). His principal concern is when and where death is going to come, but he knows for a fact that he is going to die. After witnessing Jim Conklin's death, the tattered soldier expresses his bad health; however, he says that he would not die yet because he still had things to do. The tattered soldier's function is to remind Henry of his cowardice. Every comment or question that the tattered soldier makes are like "knife thrusts" (96) to Henry making the latter feel as if "he could not keep his crime concealed in his bosom" (96). The tattered soldier's function causes him to remain static; he is then left to die by himself, after Henry abandons him. (267 words)

Henry Fleming's mother: Henry Fleming's mother lives in a barn in the country. She appears briefly in the book in one of Henry's flashbacks. A very strong and independent woman, Henry's mother is a secondary character. Because her appearance is very short, she is not described by Stephen Crane except to mention the fact that she is Henry's mother, making her a flat character. Her personality is highly stereotyped; she is the typical mother who does not want her children to be in a dangerous place, such as a battlefield. It is usually in a mother's nature to worry about her child; therefore, Henry's mom's attitude is very expected and pedestrian. Her main conflict is external, trying to convince Henry to stay at home; she would "seat herself and with no apparent difficulty give him many hundreds of reasons why he was of vastly more importance on the farm than on the field of battle" (7). However, Henry's mother's efforts did not stop Henry from enlisting. As she appears in only a couple of pages of the book, Henry's mother is static; she does not have a lot of time to change, so she doesn't. Henry Fleming's mother's major function is to serve as a symbol of care and individualism for Henry. Although there are thousands of soldiers in an army, each soldier is also an individual. Stephen Crane's use of a mother's care enhances the perception of Henry as an individual instead of a part of a regiment. Ultimately, when Henry leaves, his mother say some farewell words "Good-by, Henry. Watch out, and be a good boy" (10). She keeps working at the barn as Henry leaves for the army. (278 words)

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