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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage


by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 3 Summary

  • The men are ordered to get up and march at lightning speed, or maybe the speed of thunder (overboard with the thunder jokes?). Soon they are running and dropping gear as they go. Henry feels trapped, as if he is caught up in a huge machine. (That is, the War Machine. As in, war, what is it good for, etc.)
  • The men run. They hear bullets and explosions off in the distance.
  • Then they see their first dead man. (The description here is fantastic – there is a bit about the vulnerable soles of the dead man’s shoes that's awesome.)
  • Henry tries to find in the dead man’s eyes the answer to the "Question." (Crane nicely leaves it up to you to figure out which capital Q-question this Question is.)
  • Henry now undergoes another mood swing (we warned you!). He wants to know why they’ve run all this way and now they’re doing nothing again. He says ,"I could ‘ave walked to home – ‘round an’ ‘round the barn, if I jest wanted to walk" (3.47).
  • Another mood swing; now he thinks it would be better to just get killed and be done with it.
  • Suddenly, the sounds of battle draw incredibly close. Henry changes his mind about dying.
  • Wilson ("the Loud Soldier") looks weird. He hands Henry a packet of letters and asks Henry to give them to his folks (because he thinks/knows he is going to die). Henry is flabbergasted.

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