Literary devices/figurative language

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Dialect: Ch. 1 pg. 5- "Th' army's goin' t'move." "Ah, what yeh talkin about? How yeh know it is?" - Dialect, such as this example, conveys to the reader the communication between low class, under-educated soldiers in the late 1800's, which supports the tone of the novel.

Simile: Ch. 2 pg. 20- "Men who talked excitedly of a prospective battle as of a drama they were about to witness." - This quote, exemplifies the mentality soldiers have regarding battle thus supporting the book's mood.

Analogy: Ch. 2 pg. 20- "Men who talked excitedly of a prospective battle as of a drama they were about to witness." - The same quote from above also serves as an analogy, as it compares aspects of war to a dramatic event. This contributes to the novel's theme of courage by making war seem less intense than it really is which helps soldiers on the battlefield overcome various fears about battle.

Symbolism of the color red: Ch. 2 pg. 21- "Red eyes were still peering." Ch. 6 pg. 59- "The red, formidable difficulties of a battle had vanquished." Ch. 9 pg. 83- "He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage." Red can symbolize anger or aggression, but also passion, lust, or power. The color supports many aspects of the novel, but most importantly its theme by demonstrating unique emotions displayed by The Youth to overcome obstacles and find strength and power within him to win a battle. 

Sensory Imagery: Ch. 2 pg. 22- "The air was heavy, and cold with dew. A mass of wet grass, marched upon, rustled like silk." - This excerpt captivates a reader's senses in order to better visualize the environment in which The Youth experiences as he walks to battle, which supports the mood of the story by comparing the stillness within the atmosphere to the soldier's anxious and contemplative emotions.


The Red Badge of Courage retains an introspective tone. Written in third person, author Stephen Crane seems to communicate to the reader by examining The Youth's actions and inner feelings and channeling his thoughts to one reading the novel. Crane utilizes much figurative language to exemplify meaning, but one may find that the use of similes outweighs other literary elements. By comparing The Youth's actions on the battlefield as well as in hiding, Crane is able to make readers go beyond the protagonist's outward appearance, and instead look within his inner thoughts to further understand the logic behind some of his actions.


The Red Badge of Courage creates many atmospheres that captivate the reader at certain points within the plot. For example, in the beginning of the novel when Henry (The Youth) leaves for battle, the reader is left with a morose feeling, especially after the emotional conversation Henry has with his mother. While on the battlefield itself, one cannot help but feel tense as a result of the imagery author Stephen Crane incorporates within the chapters. From bullets flying past The Youth's head, to regiments being told to retreat from advancing forces, the "middle" section of the novel creates a suspenseful feeling that may leave readers with a knot in their stomach. The final portion of the plot, when The Youth finds a sense of courage and power to return to his regiment leaves one feeling rather enthralled of his decision.


The major theme of The Red Badge of Courage deals with courage itself. During the beginning of the novel, Henry's exemplification of this trait was through enlisting in the military. While fighting his first battle, he embodies it once again resulting in his regiment's victory. However, courage for Henry easily diminishes throughout certain points within the story, such as when he runs away from a wounded soldier during a procession, and ultimately running away from his regiment during battle. The re-occurrence of courage within the book has a strong impact on readers because author Stephen Crane presents the trait through cause and effect. By portraying situations The Youth encounters with courage and without, Crane is able to show how the outcomes affect the protagonist mentally and emotionally.

Character Deconstruction:

The Red Badge of Courage centers on protagonist Henry "The Youth" Fleming. Henry can be described as a dynamic and round character because he encounters an emotional transformation throughout the plot. Initially, he becomes over excited for battle, immediately enlisting himself for service; however when he is thrown onto a battlefield with enemy forces in front of him and the sound of cannons and bullets flying past his head, he becomes fearful and second guesses his logic of enlisting. However, he finds an inner sense of determination and valor to stand by his fellow soldiers in battle, which results in his regiment's victory and his development of strong courageous character.  

Plot Perspective:

The Red Badge of Courage is written in third person omniscient. Author Stephen Crane utilizes third person pronouns and remains emotionally impartial from the contents of the story. By using this perspective, Crane allows for great scope and flexibility while permitting outside intrusion.

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