, Research Paper
Physical and Emotional
Stephen Crane was one of the most superlative writers. In his short time he wrote several novels including: Maggie, The Blue Hotel, The Open Boat and The Red Badge of Courage. Crane was the first to notify the public that war wasn?t a good thing. Crane also was the first to depict the anti-war hero, (the one that war demonstrated that war wasn?t always a good thing). ?Crane dared depict the anti-hero, the one who failed to live up to the image society creates and the one that he would like to have himself. (Knapp 181).? The anti-hero was a new suggestion. Everyone thought that battles were games and heroes were the only things that came out of war, but Crane soon showed the public that that was not the case. That is why I have decided go into the themes of The Red Badge of Courage and the type of writer Stephen Crane was.
The first comment I would like to make is on the struggles of Cranes characters. Some of his stories were in a war setting, which made the physical struggles very difficult. The emotional stress that war puts on a person is very demanding. In the Red-
Badge of Courage The Youth doesn?t handle the pressure very well and that is the one of the reasons why I got tied into the book. Crane made you (as the reader) feel like you could almost relate to the characters problems and feelings. The emotional state of characters developed very genuinely throughout their endeavors.
Someone that humans could relate to by putting themselves into the work, someone who failed, who tried but had pain, but was mature and drastic but not fully matured. But the things that he did learn he used to tackle the other problems that arose. There is a lot of pain and triumph in this story (Edwin 74).
Psychologists have been trying to figure out why Crane inserted this powerful theme into his pieces. Crane was never in a war, although it seemed like you were reading something that a veteran war hero could have written. They were able traced this thought process back to his high school football years where there are likewise emotions and pains. Another theme that ties in with this one is the harsh realities of war and fighting, The Youth was very optimistic in the beginning of the story, but once his mother told him the things that happen during war, he considered his mothers reality, but didn?t listen and went out to his mothers objection. He soon realized that things were different and harsh. His mother sent him new clothes periodically and life was still not good. The wet ground, no good food, and he couldn?t wait until the war is over. He was
Disappointed with himself because he did not listen to his parents when they told him to stay home.
Fear. Fear and neglect are an effective theme in The Red Badge of Courage. When the youth had his first encounter with his territorial army, he was afraid of several comrades. He was able to over come that fear but the next day he had other worries, like fleeing the battle scene or eating camp food. Even though Henry never expressed his fears to Tom Wilson or Jim Conklin you could tell by the descriptions of his face that he was scared. After his friend (Konklin) died, he had no desire of fighting. Once he came over his incredible fear of dieing he began to win battles and gain his confidence. His friend was the one that made them the hero?s of the story by taking the flag and attacking the enemy time and time again. The youth had a wild imagination and impressed me. He worried over things he might do for every possible situation but eventually didn?t worry so much. The youth seemed troubled. He lacked self-confidence and continually tried to compare himself to his comrades. I believe that Crane associated this theme with his childhood. He never had much confidence or perseverance.
Unity is another topic discussed in Crane?s work. The definition of unity is; ?Something that refers to the harmonious blend of elements in a literary work and also to the internal consistency of the story, such as mood, tone, character and language. (Mc, Doughal-Little 257).? I think in all Crane?s writings he always had his characters turn out in the end but with a struggle. I assume that this theme comes from Cranes childhood. His father left young Crane
At birth and his mother abandoned him at the age of 15. This probably left him with a sense of loneliness so he strived for his characters to have wholeness in them.
Betrayal and repentance is another theme in The Red Badge of Courage. The first battle Henry escapes from the line betraying his comrade so does his friend Tomas, Tomas was caught and forced to fight the enemy. But the Youth felt betrayed by his other comrades when they ran away from the battlefield, when he was leading the soldiers. The emotions that he encountered turned him into a very successful writer. Crane had a rough childhood and these facts proof that. These feelings kept coming back to him throughout his life. I believe that this theme was the most powerful and most used. It tied in with many of the themes in the book.
The next theme that I would like to point out is the effects of colors in the human mind.
The Youth had a very creative mind and was very descriptive in all of his visions that he had about war and looking death straight in it?s eyes. Crane inserted this theme into his character because he was very descriptive writer. He made you feel like you were actually in the story by using the dialect of the time and place. He used the names of cannons guns and old fashion morals to make you feel you were in the time period. The comment by one critic: ?Crane?s style and his themes, his powerful, incisive, brilliantly colorful, imagistic, and rhythmic prose embeds itself deeply in the souls of those reading his books today. (Knapp 181)?. Stephen Crane was a very deep and poetic person who wrote good tales, he wrote articles in a weekly newspaper and wrote poems that gave him good experience in displaying his emotions.
The next thing is that Stephen Crane was a realist. Crane used exceptionally well descriptions in his work. ?Crane was a writer who was ahead of his time: in terms of his themes, subject matter, and style he may be considered a precursor of the Lost Generation writers and the Beats. (Knapp 1).? Crane was known as a symbolist. That means: the art of using symbols by investigating things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations. By that definition I believe that Crane was a darn good symbolist. Crane used very vivid images from books that he read of war stories, he filled the rest in with his imagination, but a good part of it came from listening to war veterans tell their stories. He used the material from his childhood to put the ?feeling? into the book.
Stephen Crane was lastly known as a naturalist. His stories were in a natural setting using the names of trees and wildlife in the settings. Crane ability to use these sources was a good benefit for the description of his stories. I believe that Stephen Crane died at a very young age, and had many more opportunities to be an even better writer than he was.
I have gained a great new perceptions, some of which make a great deal of sense, from the vividly portrayed physical results of war and the depth in which the dynamic emotions of the soldiers, particularly Henry, were presented. This book has simply given me new views of war. It was an incredible work to read.
? Granner, Robert C. Literature Evanston: McDougal, Little & Company, 1989
? Cady, Edwin H. Stephen Crane New York: Twanye Publishers, Inc., 1962
? Knapp, Bettina L., Stephen Crane, New York: The Ungar Publishing Company, 1987
? Stallman, R. W., Hageman E.R., The War Dispatches of Stephen Crane New York: University Press, 1964
? Stosberg, Nathan ?Highlights on Stephen Crane.? University of Texas
? Crane, Stephen, The Red Badge Of Courage American Edition: D. Appleton and Company, 1895
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