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Essay/Term paper: Red badge of courage

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Papers

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The effects that the physical environment, (nature) have on the main character, throughout any novel are so great. No one seems to notice the little details that slowly, yet gradually show, a main character's struggle, and the ironic role that nature plays in effecting their actions. Environment is always used some way, whether it is to help the main character cope with his or her struggle or, the strong emotional changes that it leaves the main character feeling after personal encounters with the cruel world. It happens more or less in every novel, although sometimes it's not as noticeable as others.

In the Red Badge of Courage, main character Henry Fleming, is faced with many obstacles and tough situations that he must deal with. Nature and the physical environment around Henry, play a big role in the decisions that he makes, the actions that he takes and the re-evaluation of lifes values he later takes.

The first large decision that Henry makes, is actually enlisting in the army. Crane, the author of the novel, doesn't make it appear as if this was a tough decision for Henry, although it was one of the largest, and the basis for the plot. Henry was bored of his life in the farm. Doing the same thing everyday was not enough action for him. He under estimated the power or war and thought that, that was the action he had been craving. Henry learns throughout the novel, that he had never been more wrong.

After his enlisting in the army, the war becomes his worst nightmare, which leads to his conflicting thoughts and emotional fears. The descriptions used by Crane (on page 20 in the second and third paragraph) are indeed given by Crane, yet they are meant to be seen through Henry's eyes. The detailed negative description of nature, symbolizes his feeling on dreading another day of war. War was not what he perceived it to be. All he wanted was to return to his "boring" life on the farm, but by now it was too late. This is when the inner conflict begins to occur. Unable to decide whether to run away from battle like a "skirt", or to stay and fight like a brave soldier, he finally decides to leave after the second battle. Henry ends up running deep into the woods to escape, and to be as far away from battle as possible. Now, once again Henry begins to battle with himself emotionally, and fears the battle he has just run from, but this time he learns more about himself than ever before. With no other choice, he begins the process of growing up. He encounters many new things, and starts on his journey away from battle, away from his only known reality.

One of the things he finds, is a dead body that has been there for quite some time now rotting away. Continuing on his way he also encounters a squirrel that is busily running for its life just as he did. Emotionally disturbed by this he continues on his way, only to see all of nature as he had never seen it before.

He ends up looking at nature with a newfound respect that he has never know before. He realizes that all of natures living creatures in some way or another undergo the same life threatening obstacles that they must try to surpass. In his case it was the war. This new realization of nature as a whole, helps him cope with the guilt that has been weighing on his shoulders about his flea. It comforts him and he realizes that what he did wasn't wrong, it was only human nature.

Life is a hard difficult thing, you need to be tough to survive. There is always going to be something standing in your way, but to try and surpass that only makes you a stronger person. Given, they are going to be different situations, but everyone and everything has its problems, and if looked at in perspective to all of nature, can been seen to be only natural. Every situation is some sort of life long lesson in its self, and when you get old enough they all accumulate, only to make you wiser. Because how you are strong, is to know what makes you weak.


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