The Red Badge of Courage
Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
He had, of course, dreamed of battles all his life – of vague and bloody conflicts that had thrilled him with their sweep and fire. […] But […] he had regarded battles as crimson blotches on the pages of the past. He had put them as things of the bygone with his thought-images of heavy crowns and high castles. There was a portion of the world's history which he had regarded as the time of wars, but it, he thought, had been long gone over the horizon and had disappeared forever (1.18).
Henry blames his cowardice on his culture rather than on himself. In his mind, the time for heroism and bravery is passed.
From his home he had gone to the seminary to bid adieu to many schoolmates. They had thronged about him with wonder and admiration. He had felt the gulf now between them and had swelled with calm pride. He and some of his fellows who had donned blue were quite overwhelmed with privileges for all of one afternoon, and it had been a very delicious thing. They had strutted (1.34).
Henry joins the army in order to make the transition from boy to man. At what point in the novel does he actually become a man?
On the way to Washington his spirit had soared. The regiment was fed and caressed at station after station until the youth had believed that he must be a hero. There was a lavish expenditure of bread and cold meats, coffee, and pickles and cheese. As he basked in the smiles of the girls and was patted and complimented by the old men, he had felt growing within him the strength to do mighty deeds of arms (1.36).
Henry is trying to craft a new image of himself. By joining the army and donning that uniform, he fancies himself an entirely new man.