In the novel, The Red Badge of Courage, a theme shows itself during a battle, in the civil war. It is the battle towards maturity and adulthood. A soldier by the name of Henry Fleming, also known as the youth, shows this theme. However this can be argued, especially about the last scenes in the novel. Henry Fleming is an immature soldier who enlists in the army looking for the Spartan glory he found in stories. “They might not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to be much glory in them.
He had read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. ” (Pg 6) Henry shows little maturity in his decision to enlist. He looks for a grace amongst death. “He had grown to regard himself merely as a part of a vast blue demonstration. ”(Pg 11) During the beginning of battle he begins to see a broader spectrum in the world. He begins to see that he is not an individual, but a part of a group. Henry begins to find adult hood, he loses some selfishness and begins to look towards others with compassion.
He felt the subtle battle brotherhood more potent even than the cause for which he was fighting. ” (Pg 56) However, Henry’s immaturity is shown when he deserts a dying soldier and flees from a battle. “The youth looked at him, could see that he, too, like that other one, was beginning to act dumb and animal-like. ” (Pg 44) As Henry leaves the dying tattered solider, he feels remorse, wondering why he was so stupid to abandon his friend. A childish action to say the least.
Henry returns to his platoon feeling guilty for his abandonment of both the platoon and the solider. He goes onto be accepted back into the platoon, they are unaware that he abandoned them; he goes on to fight heroically in a battle. After a high-ranking officer makes a derogatory remark about Henry, Henry changes his attitude. He accepts the comment without rebellion and shows respect, which shows his growing maturity. Because of the success of fighting bravely, Henry has the self-esteem to deal with his mistakes as an adult.
As a mature solider he can learn from his mistakes. By the end of the novel, Henry has changed and he knows it. He has become a soldier that gained courage, responsibility, and can admit his wrongdoing. He can never make up for deserting the dying soldier, but now entering adulthood he can “put his sin at a distance. ” By gaining new qualities and confronting his cowardice, he is truly mature: “He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive but of sturdy and strong blood. He was a man. ”
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