Friday, January 17, 2014

The Red Badge of Courage // Book Review

The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane

All his life, Henry had dreamed of war and bloody conflict. Now he was part of it. Shells burst all around him like strange flowers. Gunfire ripped toward him in great sheets of flame.
          Then, without any warning, the enemy attacked. Screaming hordes of wild-eyed rebels were advancing across the field of battle. Fear spread through the ranks. First, a man on Henry's left turned tail and ran. Then, another and another. Then, without even knowing why, Henry was running too, unbuttoned coat bulging in the breeze, running in a grim race from death.

This book has been on my reading list for a while, and a little while ago I finally sat down and read it. Being only 149 pages long, I read was easily able to read it in one day, (maybe two hours of reading?). I am glad to finally be able to cross this one off my list. I honestly had no clue what this book was about, other than it had to do with war somehow, (obviously because of the cover. :) It covers three days, telling the story of one young boy's experiences in his first battle. Henry didn't strike me as a particularly wonderful character during the first half of the book. He was shallow, annoying, and childish. He was scared to death, (and had my fullest sympathy. Honestly, when you stop to consider what soldiers, then and now, must feel when faced with the awful reality of war and death fort the first time, it is frightening and horrible. I don't blame Henry at all.) During the last half of the book, though, Henry began to change, and mature dramatically. He became absorbed in his task, (fighting the rebels,) and started to see life, people and himself in a different way. He changed from an annoying teenager thrust into the middle of a tragic setting, into a brave man (theoretically. he was still only like 16.) intent on proving himself and his regiment.
          The Red Badge of Courage is a little strange. There were some parts that were weird, and maybe a little unnecessary. I am thinking of one death scene in particular, where one of Henry's friend's died, (don't worry, I'm not giving any spoilers. :) and it went into great detail, describing the whole death scene, and I wonder if it was necessary or not. On the other hand, perhaps it had a great impact on Henry and helped him to mature. Maybe I'm rambling a little. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this book, if you've read it, or do in the future.

My rating: * * * * * * {six of ten}

1 comment:

  1. I've heard some about it, but never read it. . . . I think it was Stephen Crane who rejected a life of luxury for living alone so that he could better understand the tragedy he was writing about. Interesting method. (I don't think I'd be willing to go that far for writing a book ;))


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