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The Red Badge of Courage
Transcript of The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
Crane uses figurative language, dark imagery, syntax, and idiosyncratic diction to distance the reader from the events described in the book and blend them together to create a realistic insight into the war. The distance allows the reader to comprehend the bigger picture of the war while detailing specific parts.
About The Author
1 Nov 71 - 5 Jun 1900
Crane wrote many books
with realistic and
Although he lived during the war, Crane never
actually saw battle or combat.
His novel, The Red Badge of Courage, was very
popular and viewed as a very realistic piece of literature.
Davis, Linda H. 1998. Badge of Courage: The Life of Stephan Crane. New York: Mifflin.
Diction and Syntax
: Marriam Webster defines an epithet as "a characterizing word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thing."
Crane uses epithets to:
Create distance between the reader and the characters
Takes focus off these characters to shine a brighter light on the main character
Dark Figurative Language
The majority of the figurative language Crane uses is very dark and dismal.
“He stalked like the
of a soldier”(Chapter 8, page 54).
blistering voices of pain
that had called out from his scalp were, he thought, definite in their expression of danger” (Chapter 12, page 76).
“His lips, that were habitually in a soft and childlike curve, were now writhered into
”(Chapter 19, page 113).
The dark figurative language is use to take away the glamor and nostalgia that some authors usually describe war with. The dark and heavy language is used to show the horror and terror that comes with war, so the reader can have a realistic view of battle.
Critique of Romanticism
Though figurative language is typically used to glorify objects or ideas, Crane instead uses it to entirely describe all aspects of war, including the horrible parts. Crane is not necessarily mocking romanticism, as he does not directly address it.
"...as the orbs of a row of dragons advance(Chapter 2, Page 15)"
"....an onslaught of redoubtable dragons(Chapter 6, Page 41)"
Dead man Imagery-
"...a dead man who was seated with his back against a columnlike tree (Chapter 7, Page 57)"
"....the eyes, staring at the youth, changed to the dull hue to be seen on the side of a dead fish (Chapter 7, Page 57)"
"Near the threshold he stopped, horror-stricken at the sight of a thing... (Chapter 7, Page 57)" (dead body)
"The clouds were tinged an earthlike yellow in the sunrays an in the shadow were a
" (Chapter 6, page 42). Crane describes the clouds as "sorry blue", which sets an uneasy and grim tone. Most romantics describe nature as beautiful and majestic, Crane does the opposite of this.
"He crouched behind a little tree, with
his eyes burning hatefully
teeth set in a cur-like snarl
" (Chapter 17, page 100). Quote depicts the protagonist in battle. Romantics describe soldiers as heroic, Crane describes this one as an animal.
Crane does not limit his usage of figurative language to only certain aspects. He has a variety of metaphors, similes, and the like.
However, he does have a tendency to use dragons or the color red in his comparisons.
Perhaps Crane's abundance of scarily accurate figurative language is what caused critics to believe he had been in the war himself. Sydney Brooks, an English critic, was "totally convinced by Crane's depictions of combat" and thought he had fought in the war.
“They were going to look at war, the red animal -war, the blood-swollen god (Chapter 12, Page 85)”
"He had rid himself of the red sickness of battle (Chapter 13, Page 93)
Jim Conklin's (The Tall One) death.
Jim Conklin was injured on his side where Jesus was stabbed with a spear.
"....a devotee of a mad religion (Chapter 9, Page 70)"
"The youth and the tattered soldier followed, sneaking as if whipped.... (Chapter 9, Page 70)"
"They began to have thoughts of a solemn ceremony (Chapter 9, Page 70)"
"The red sun pasted in the sky like a wafer (Chapter 9, Page 70)"
Crane also uses many examples of colloquial language throughout the novel.
Marriam Webster defines colloquial language as "natural language which, among other properties, uses colloquialism.
The soldiers often have dialog using this type of style. Crane uses colloquial language to give the reader more of a common and realistic feel throughout the novel.
Purposeful Use of Improper Grammar
Stephen Crane purposefully uses improper grammar throughout his writing.
This unique grammatical style gives the text a very individualistic feel and style.
"Red Badge of Courage" (title)
"Oh, say, this is too much of a good thing" (Crane, 41)
"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" (Crane, 57)
"He must look to the grave for comprehension" (Crane, 28)
“Doubts and he were struggling”
Example Number 1
(Chapter 11, Paragraph 15, Page 120)
Example Number 2
“A coldness swept over his back, and it is true that his trousers felt to him that they were no fit for his legs at all."
(Chapter 3, Paragraph 27, Page 43)
Purpose and Effect on Style
Other writers tend to use proper grammar and elegant sentence structure to give the reader an educated mood.
Crane takes a different approach by skillfully using improper grammar and syntax.
This allows for the reader to understand the writing better and to see the realistic aspects of war from the viewpoint of the soldiers.
Crane skillfully uses colloquial language and epithets to allow the readers to understand the realism of war from the soldiers point of view but still distancing them from the soldiers and other characters in the novel.
Crane's use of improper grammar gives a very realistic feeling and mood to the reader and shows the opinions and viewpoints of the soldiers fighting the actual battles and physical conflicts throughout the book.
All of these elements of diction and syntax plays an important role in Stephen Crane's unique, individualistic, and realistic style of writing.
During the Civil War, the main character, Henry Fleming, is worried that if he ever sees combat he will not have the courage to stay and fight.
At last his unit is attacked by enemy confederate soldiers. Henry has no opportunity to run and is forced to stay and fight. However, when the enemy attacks again, Fleming flees.
After the battle is over, he joins a group of injured soldier and is envious of their courage and wounds from battle.
When Henry is reunited with his unit, he viciously fights the enemy with courage.
Henry carries the union flag into more battle and after victory he reflects on his cowardliness but realizes that he has overcome his "red sickness" and has become a man.