ERIC Number: ED027299
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1968-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
Symbolism and Psychological Realism in "The Red Badge of Courage."
McDermott, John J.
Nineteenth-Century Fiction, v23 n3 p324-31 Dec 1968
In "The Red Badge of Courage," Stephen Crane overcomes serious artistic difficulties to depict a complicated psychological change in his protagonist, Henry Fleming, an unsophisticated and inarticulate farm boy. To embody the development of this protagonist, Crane uses a series of thematically-related incidents and a set of thematic symbols which expose the limitations of Fleming's conventional conception of courage. Further, this conception is shown to be inadequate in that Fleming's desertion is precipitated by the same values that have given him apparent success in his first battle. The principal means of indicating a psychological change, however, is Fleming's psychic wound--The "Red Badge" of guilt "burned into his brow." This symbol embodies both the hidden badge of cowardice and, in the tawdry origin of a later physical wound, the synthetic heroism that Fleming is pursuing. By the end of the novel, Fleming has performed a heroic action in response to mature demands on himself and has achieved manhood, even though he is yet a character of mixed motives and partial insights. (JS)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Crane (Stephen); Red Badge of Courage