The Red Badge of Courage
Duty Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
But he instantly saw that it would be impossible for him to escape from the regiment. It inclosed him. And there were iron laws of tradition and law on four sides. He was in a moving box (3.15).
Duty is also a part of this "moving box" hemming Henry in and dictating his actions. He is as much a prisoner to his moral obligations as to his fear of sullying his reputation.
As he perceived this fact it occurred to him that he had never wished to come to the war. He had not enlisted of his free will. He had been dragged by the merciless government. And now they were taking him out to be slaughtered (3.16).
Henry tries to free himself of responsibility for his actions by claiming he never had agency over them to begin with. This is another mark of his immaturity and mental weakness.
He suddenly lost concern for himself, and forgot to look at a menacing fate. He became not a man but a member. He felt that something of which he was a part--a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country--was in crisis. He was welded into a common personality which was dominated by a single desire. For some moments he could not flee no more than a little finger can commit a revolution from a hand (5.13).
Henry acts out of duty and out of the loss of his personal identity. He can’t take credit for his actions because they are not entirely his.