Author(s): Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage - This is the story of Henry Fleming, 18, a soldier with the fictional New York Regiment during the American Civil War. Henry flees from the field of battle but is overcome with shame and longs for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice. He rejoins his regiment and proves himself to be a capable soldier. Although the author was born after the war, and had not at the time experienced battle first-hand, the novel is acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of the war. It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville. The novel is known for its distinctive style, which includes battle sequences as well as the repeated use of color imagery, and ironic tone. Crane's story reflects the inner experience of a soldier fleeing from combat, rather than the external world around him. It is also noted for its use of what Crane called a "psychological portrayal of fear". The themes explored include maturation, heroism, cowardice, and the indifference of nature.