The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage Theme of Transformation
The Red Badge of Courage follows the transformation of a young soldier fighting for the Union during the Civil War. The transformation here is a psychological one, from a scared, selfish, uncertain, and searching adolescent to a confident and strong young man – in the course of a mere three days. The transformation is driven by a number of trials, including battle, injury, fear, and a fair amount of good old-fashioned, isolated thinking time. The soldier, Henry, fights his battles in the mind before he can display the fruits of his transformation on the battlefield.
Questions About Transformation
- Which event changes Henry more than any other?
- What truly motivates Henry to rush at the enemy when they are hiding behind the fence?
- What are the key events in the course of Henry’s transformation?
- Is Henry’s transformation a positive or negative one? Is he better off at the start or the end of the novel?
Chew on This
Henry’s supposed change in the novel is a superficial one.