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The Red Badge of Courage


The Red Badge of Courage

By Stephen Crane


The Red Badge of Courage is a classic novel by Stephen Crane, set during the American Civil War. It is a coming-of-age tale, focusing on the psychological aspects of war through the eyes of a young soldier, Henry Fleming.

Main Themes

  • The Reality of War: Contrasts the romanticized views of war with its harsh realities.
  • Courage and Cowardice: Explores the complex nature of bravery.
  • Transformation and Growth: Follows Henry's journey from naivety to maturity.

Plot Summary


Henry Fleming enlists in the Union Army, filled with grand illusions of heroism.

Rising Action

Henry faces the brutal reality of war, leading to fear and self-doubt. His first encounter with battle causes him to flee, struggling with guilt and shame.


In subsequent battles, Henry overcomes his fears, earning his "red badge of courage" (a wound). He starts to find his place in the army.

Falling Action

Henry reflects on his experiences, reconciling his initial cowardice with his newfound courage.


The novel ends with Henry gaining a deeper understanding of himself and the nature of bravery.