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Extra info for Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge Of Courage
The young soldier feels as firmly a part of his regiment as the fin- gers of a hand, reminding us of Bill’s crushed fingers or the lieutenant’s wounded hand. ” Several hands are hurt in these chapters, but none of them is cut off. The young soldier is able to fight successfully now because he feels like part of a group. He is a member, a finger on a hand. Because he is not thinking of himself but of the group, he is able to behave courageously. There have been references to the sun before in the book, but this is the first chapter that closes with the image of the sun shining above the field of battle.
As the Confederate troops suddenly appeared, the young soldier tried to remember whether his rifle was loaded. ” Perspiration streaming down his face, his mouth slightly open, the young soldier began to fire his gun. Then “He suddenly lost concern for himself.... He became not a man but a member.... He was welded into a common personality which was dominated by a single desire. ” Unlike the pictures he had seen in schoolbooks, in this battle the soldiers didn’t seem to be posing for statues. Officers bobbed to and fro and almost stood on their heads as they tried to see the enemy through the smoke.
Once again Crane depicts the machinery as alive. The exploding shells look like “strange war flowers bursting into fierce bloom,” an image used before to describe tents in the camp. “The battery was disputing with a distant antagonist,” and the gunners “seemed to be patting them on the back and encouraging them with words. ” But while the guns are alive to the young soldier, he sees the gunners as machines: “Methodical idiots! ” Again, there is religious imagery; the decision to run is “a revelation,” the general’s eyes display “a desire to chant a paean,” and there are several references to the war god.