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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage

by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 2 Summary

  • As it turns out, the regiment doesn’t head for battle – not yet, anyway. This gives Henry days to sweat it out and wonder if he’s really a chicken.
  • His moods swing wildly, as they will continue to do for the rest of the novel.
  • Henry feels alone. He thinks that all the other guys in his regiment are either totally brave or totally chicken and hiding it better than he is.
  • There is much talk by generals of fighting, and also much talk of getting cigars, and much stroking of mustaches.
  • Finally, the men move out. Even though they are supposedly heading into battle, a circus-like atmosphere prevails. There is lots of joking. One guy tries to swipe a horse from a neighboring farm and its owner, a young girl, succeeds in getting it back.
  • (The soldiers were all on the girl’s side.)
  • The men camp for the night, and Henry plucks at blades of grass to denote self-pity. He wishes he were back home on the farm milking the cows that now (in his vision) "have a halo of happiness about each of their heads" (2.36).
  • Wilson, a.k.a. "the Loud Soldier", asks, "What the thunder is wrong with you, you thunder-head?" (I can’t find this quote in the book)
  • Henry says to shut the thunder up. He again (so suavely) brings up the idea of running away, to test Wilson’s reaction.
  • The loud soldier says he won’t run, Henry asks how the thunder he knows, and the men get into a little spat before Wilson stomps off (or perhaps thunders off), leaving Henry more alone than ever.

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