The Red Badge of Courage: Critical Essay
In the Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane demonstrates his use of naturalism in his story. The novel shows the struggles of Henry during his time in war, and he constantly struggles as he tries to find who he is and who he wants to be. Henry joined the war because he wanted to be more mature and grow as a new man. Henry also commits actions that don’t help him achieve who he wants to become. Henry struggles as he feels guilty from fleeing the battle. While Henry is in the wilderness, Crane uses nature as naturalism and makes nature a model for Henry’s acts.
Naturalism is known as a form of realism in which it is held that a writer should adopt an objective view toward the material written about. In chapter 7 after Henry fled the battle, he finds out that his regiment had won after all, and as he tramples through the forest Henry throws a pinecone at a squirrel. When Henry does this, he soon realizes nature was giving him a sign when the squirrel did not stand and fight, but ran as fast as his legs could carry him.
As Stephen Crane continues to grow who Henry is in this story, Crane shows both weaknesses and strengths in is development of the theme of manhood. For example, strengths of the theme are: how Crane uses nature as a model for Henry to become who he wants to be, how Crane uses imagery in the war with animals to enhance the war; when Henry went back to the battle, and last how Crane’s use of imagery, color, and wording showed how Henry’s perspective changes to a certain understanding and acceptance to who he is. Weaknesses Crane shows are: awkward grammar such as the way the characters talk in the book because it tends to be confusing in some parts in the book, and the fact that you would not know the battle was “The Battle: Chancellorsville.”
... to smite him between the eyes (Crane, 32). However, when Henry discovers that they had won the battle, he feels angry and jealous ... again he flees from the harsh realities of war. Later in the novel, Henry is knocked in the head with a rifle ... ravages and truths of war, most become disheartened and disillusioned. Stephen Crane's original ending to the story shows Henry's naive view ...
Naturalism relates to the theme of manhood because Henry was inexperienced and this was probably why he fled from the battle because he did not know what to do. Henry’s action and the conditions that surround him are consistent with Cranes point of view because it is characterized by the detailed revelations of Henry’s thoughts including his wide range of emotions, including fear, joy, doubts, and pride. The views of war from Crane are unique because he was never physically in a battle. This makes his story so much better because Crane makes his story so real and as Henry still journeys through the forest Crane uses the sun as a symbol to Henry. The sun in Henrys view is sympathetic, but also uncaring to the fate of humans.
When the reader gets deeper into the story of Henry Fleming they would be able to see how Crane develops the theme into much more. For example, it started out as Henry as a farm boy eager to join war, but he was always frightened he would run. In the upcoming battle, which is Henrys first; he fled. You can see also when Henry is in the forest how Crane uses nature to be a model to Henry. Crane does this by making Nature seem like an enemy of man in some parts of his book, but in other parts as a friend. For example on page 54 when Henry found the dead man, he tried to retreat, but “the branches, pushing against him, threatened to throw him over upon it.
Crane’s story is more unique than most stories because Stephen Crane was never a veteran himself. Also, at the end of the story Henry Fleming got what he hoped for because as he made his journey he slowly became a different person than he was in the beginning. Crane’s story is also unique because nature in the book is always capitalized and this probably shows the respect both Henry and the author have for nature. Truly, Stephen Crane is a great author.