Hero, the general direction of smoke without even

Hero, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means, “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities or one who shows great courage”. In the book The Red Badge Of Courage does the main character Henry Fleming qualify as a hero, coward, or normal person for his actions?At the beginning of the book Henry enlists in the Union Army during the American Civil War because he wants to be a true hero. Over the length of the story his own definition of what a hero is changes.

Growing up Henry had many childhood dreams of war, “of vague and bloody conflicts that had thrilled him with their sweep and fire.” (Crane, 3) however his dreams always ended with, “peoples secure in the shadow of his eagle-eyed prowess.” (Crane, 3) showing what he defined as a hero early on in his life.

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He defined a hero as someone who is brave and keeps others safe. After enlisting in the Union Army, Henry notices people are already treating him differently. He then believes that by enlisting he has already become a hero. Once he arrives at camp he soon begins to doubt his childhood dreams of heroism and “suspected them to be impossible pictures” (Crane, 8). Now that Henry was closer to his dream of protecting people he begins to wonder if it is any less heroic to feel afraid. As he engages in his first battle he is scared, it wasn’t anything like the battles he had imagined his whole life and he thought it was impossible for a hero to step up. He falls in line with the other soldiers and fires in the general direction of smoke without even bothering to aim.

During a brief break in the battle Henry runs away, feeling it is impossible to ever become a hero. He thinks this defines him because he believes heroes don’t make mistakes. The next battle starts and he is forced to revisit that thought, he fires and fires and does so even after the battle is over. Afterwards he realizes, “he was now what he called a hero. And he had not been aware of the process” (Crane, 86). He had become the flag-bearer for his regiment.

Henry was a symbol for courage and bravery. Throughout the story he matured from a child to a man. He learned from his failure, and did what he believed to be heroic. I believe that by learning from his failures and overcoming his fears Henry became a he


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