The Red Badge of Courage
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person (Limited Omniscient)
In The Red Badge of Courage, we see the action through the eyes of just one character, "the Youth" named Henry Fleming. Though Henry is not the narrator of the story, we are inside Henry’s mind throughout the novel. We are never allowed to know any of the other characters’ thoughts or feelings (unless of course they vocalize them to Henry). In the novel, the storyteller describes things as Henry sees and interprets them. At the same time, because of the slight tone of irony that the narrator employs, we realize that some of the things Henry perceives and recounts may not reflect the truest reality. This type of narration relies on the reader to ferret out which of Henry’s emotions and observations are accurate, and which are merely a reflection of Henry’s temporary state of mind. Hope you’re up for the challenge…