The Red Badge of Courage
Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
These thoughts uplifted him. He felt the quiver of war desire. In his ears, he heard the ring of victory. He knew the frenzy of a rapid successful charge. The music of the trampling feet, the sharp voices, the clanking arms of the column near him made him soar on the red wings of war. For a few moments he was sublime (11.10).
The only way Henry can get himself to act is through these fantasies, these visions of himself as some sort of Homeric hero.
While he had been tossed by many emotions, he had not been aware of ailments. Now the beset him and made clamor. As he was at last compelled to pay attention to them, his capacity for self-hate was multiplied. In despair, he declared that he was not like those others. He now conceded it to be impossible that he should ever become a hero. He was a craven loon. Those pictures of glory were piteous things. He groaned from his heart and went staggering off (11.18).
Then again… Notice that it is Henry’s physical vulnerabilities that bring him back down to earth. He may have briefly won the battle of courage in his mind, but surviving the actual battle in front of him is an entirely different story.
Then, as if the heads were moved by one muscle, all the faces were turned toward him with wide, derisive grins. He seemed to hear some one make a humorous remark in a low tone. At it the others all crowed and cackled. He was a slang phrase (11.33).
Henry despises himself for running away, NOT because of his own cowardice, but because it threatens his reputation in the eyes of the other men.