Study Guide

Wilson ("The Loud Soldier") in The Red Badge of Courage

By Stephen Crane

Wilson ("The Loud Soldier")

Wilson is a boastful, argumentative, and "I’ll do things my way" sort of guy. He is constantly arguing with the other soldiers and telling everyone his opinion about everything. Of course, that’s at the beginning of the novel, when Wilson is appropriately dubbed "the Loud Soldier." Interestingly, Wilson drops the attitude (and the epithet) as the novel progresses. He undergoes a change in personality, not unlike the transformation our protagonist experiences himself. As Wilson becomes a self-sacrificing friend to Henry, he guides him (the same way Jim did via his death) in regards to what it means to be a man, and what it means to be courageous. Henry even surpasses his teacher by the end of the story, telling Wilson to shut up when he has a moment of doubt. The image of the two men together bearing the Union flag is entirely appropriate for one of the novel’s closing battle scenes. These characters began the novel as boys and have come this long way in becoming men together.