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Red Badge of Courage Dialectical Journal

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“The Cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing from long troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber-tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the army’s feet; and at night, when the stream hand become of sorrowful blackness, one could see across it the red , eyelike gleam of hostile campfires set in the low brows of distant hills.”| 1| The novel opens up with different impressions of the environment. In this passage Stephen Crane strongly uses mood and naturalism to help the reader visualize his depiction of the novel’s current setting. The stream is described as “sorrowful blackness” which instills a bleak and dreary feeling while you read. The army is called “it” which was awakening. The river is described as “amber-tinted” like as if it was tainted by soldiers’ blood. The figurative language used in the passage to describe the weather such as “retiring fogs” and “cold passed reluctantly” feels like description of the soldiers’ emotion.

“Near the threshold he stopped, horror-stricken at the sight of a thing. He was being looked at by a dead man who was seated with his back against a columnlike tree. The corpse was dressed in a uniform that had once been blue, but was now faded to a melancholy shade of green. The eyes, staring at the youth, had changed to the dull hue to be seen on the side of a dead fish. The mouth was open. Its red had changed to an appalling yellow. Over the gray skin of the face ran little ants. One was trundling some sort of bundle along the upper lip.”| 46| The image placed in your mind of his uniform slowly transforming over time from an outfit of pride and prominence to one that was worn out and no longer in use. By comparing the eyes of the soldier to those of a dead fish, it made his death seem real and finite. The sight of a dead fish doesn’t really affect most people emotionally but when you envision a person almost resembling one, it seems extremely inhumane and hard to wrap your mind around. Also the discovery of this body was also in a church which seems backwards. A place that is supposed to be holy was used as a stage for death. Maybe Crane used that irony to pose the question of if there’s still hope.

“The fight was lost. The dragons were coming with invincible strides. The army, helpless in the matted thickets and blinded by the overhanging night, was going to be swallowed. War, the red animal, war, the blood-swollen god, would have bloated fill.”| 66-67| Dragons are mystical creatures that breathe fire. Throughout the novel Crane portrays the Confederate soldiers as those mighty beasts incapable of being beaten. The whole war in and of itself is being compared to an animal with insatiable thirst. It is also being compared to a god like it is almost completely out of their control. This passage also contains color imagery. The war is painted once again with a red color possibly symbolizing all of the bloodshed put into the war. | “The winds of battle had swept all about the regiment, until the one rifle, instantly followed by others, flashed in its front. A moment later the regiment roared forth its sudden and valiant retort. A dense wall of smoke settled slowly down. It was furiously slit and slashed by the knifelike fire from the rifles.”| 92| Machine imagery is thoroughly used in this quote. The soldiers weren’t spoken of here but instead just their rifles alone were described.

In battle the soldiers rely heavily on their weapons and machinery. Their rifles here were used to protect the soldiers from any posing threat. The use of the “knifelike fire” further helps you realize the power and destruction rifles and other machinery are capable of. | “And, furthermore how could they kill him who was the chosen of gods and doomed to greatness”| 84| This quote reproaches the doubt about hope. Henry is extremely apprehensive about the upcoming battle. As a soldier in the war you were almost immortalized by those you were fighting for. You were placed on a high pedestal and admired by most. The glory of being a soldier came at the price of danger. Although he was a hero, he was first in line for endangerment.| “A sputtering of musketry was always to be heard. Later, the cannon had entered the dispute. In the fog-filled air their voices made a thudding sound. The reverberations were continued. This part of the world led a strange, battlefull existence.”| 85| Sound was used strongly in this passage to take the reader to the battlefield. The words such as sputtering and reverberations helped us feel the surroundings. By using the “fog-filled air” it makes me think that the soldiers too had to rely on only their hearing because their vision was currently obstructed. When you enter battle it’s like you’re going into the unknown and with a lack of sight you’re completely vulnerable.

“At times he regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way. He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.”| 52| Crane uses irony in this situation. Later on in the novel Henry does in fact get injured but it isn’t out of an act of courage. He feels a battle wound from war shows the highest form of courageousness and heroism. In this sense a “red badge” is meant to be a wound which tags you as a hero. | “So it came to pass as he trudged from the place of blood and wrath his soul changed. He came from hot plow-shared to prospects of clover tranquility, and it was as if hot plowshares were not. Scars faded as flowers.”| 127| This just shows the growth Henry made from the beginning of the novel. The battlefield a place of death and destruction was the place of rebirth for Henry. Comparing the fading scars to flowers shows how Henry has now grown into or outgrown his faults and blemishes and began to blossom into the man he wanted to be.

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