To begin, the story. Henry experiences the true horror of death as he watches in anguish while his friend Jim suffers and dies.
Over the river a golden ray of sun came through the hosts of leaden rain clouds. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage. Henry is quite obviously becoming a veteran soldier and willingly throws himself into battle, seemingly unafraid of the dangers and risk of death that war carries.
One hundred years ago, however, Stephen Crane set out to destroy these myths through his novel The Red Badge of Courage, which traces the experiences of a young soldier in the American Civil War.
The novel details the qualities of maturity and manhood in a gripping tale of Private Henry Fleming of the Union Army.It is a story that realistically depicts the American Civil War through the eyes of Henry Fleming, an ordinary farm boy who decides to become a soldier. Driven to a "prolonged ecstasy of excitement" by the rejoicing crowd, Henry enlists in the army and says good-bye to his mother with a "light of excitement and expectancy in his eyes" And in his unblooded regiment he can find no help. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage. If he changed something, he would rewrite the whole page. Although Henry "progresses upwards toward manhood and moral triumph", as he begins to mature by taking leave of his previous "romantic notions," "the education of the hero ends as it began: in self deception. Fearing actual duty and instead going out of his way so as to not appear cowardly to other soldiers, Henry is only concerned with his outward appearance to others: duty is not as important as the self-imagined glory and revelry that comes with simply being called a soldier. His change, therefore, is not as one dimensional as the text would lead readers to believe. He anticipates a romantic, sentimental send-off reminiscent of Spartan times and even goes as far as preparing remarks in advance which he hopes to use "with touching effect" to create "a beautiful scene" A line of Confederates hidden behind a fence beyond a clearing shoots with impunity at Henry's regiment, which is ill-covered in the tree-line. One member of the group, a "tattered soldier", asks Henry where he is wounded, but the youth dodges the question. These lines again urge Henry to see past his idealistic view of self importance.
He is a dreamer. Century's "Battles and Leaders" series served as direct inspiration for the novel, and one story in particular Warren Lee Goss's "Recollections of a Private" contains many parallels to Crane's work.
This quote, taken from Homer 's famous work, the Iliad, demonstrates the idea that war can be seen in a skewed fashion. War is often idealized and viewed in an unrealistic light based on heroic stories and courageous stories of battle.
In these lines, Henry obviously still holds the idea of death in a high regard.