Lee, leader of the Confederate forces, surrendered to U. General Ulysses S. The war brought an end to the institution of slavery, and emancipated, or freed, four million African Americans. It also left the South in ruins: its land burned and pillaged, its economic system shattered, and its people demoralized.
Out of a nation of about 35 million people, , men were killed in the war. The Battle of Chancellorsville Crane never calls the two days of battle he chronicles in The Red Badge of Courage by a specific historical name. Based on certain details in the story, however, many people believe that Crane was describing the Battle of Chancellorsville. Lee and 60, Confederate soldiers. The battle took place on May 2—4, , in Chancellorsville, Virginia, which lies near the Potomac River and the Rappahannock River, which is mentioned in the novel. The land around Chancellorsville was covered with thick forest, making it difficult for soldiers to maneuver.
Crane portrays the wooded setting and the difficulties it presents vividly in The Red Badge of Courage.
Life as a Civil War Soldier Henry Fleming, the main character in this novel, discovers that war is not like the romantic, daring battles that he has imagined in dreams. Most Americans came to this realization during the Civil War. Photography was a new invention, and soldiers posed in their uniforms for portraits before heading off to war. Outside Washington, D.
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This casual attitude toward war did not last long. Soon people experienced, or saw in some of the first photographs of war, the terrible death and destruction that was taking place. Life as a Civil War soldier was not romantic. Heavy artillery, or large cannons, fired explosive shells on soldiers in battle. Bullets were shaped differently than those today, and were made to shatter bone and flesh.
- Interpreting National History: Race, Identity, and Pedagogy in Classrooms and Communities (Teaching/Learning Social Justice).
- The Project Gutenberg E-text of The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane.?
- Reading the American Novel – - Reading the American Novel – - Wiley Online Library.
Medicine was less advanced then, and doctors faced with a soldier shot in the arm or leg could usually only amputate the limb, not heal it. Antibiotics were not widely used, so injured men became infected. Illnesses doctors could not treat also swept through military encampments. One out of every five Northern soldiers and one out of every four Southern soldiers died during the Civil War.
In some towns, a whole generation of young men seemed simply to disappear. Many of these soldiers were very young, some only fourteen or fifteen years old. Even when they were not fighting each other or fighting illness, soldiers still faced difficulties. The soldiers lived in crude camps in extreme weather conditions.
They often fell short of food, and the food they did have was terrible—some of it was military rations left from the Mexican War two decades before, and soldiers complained that it was rotten and filled with vermin. Often soldiers plundered farms for food to eat. Romantic military uniforms quickly became tattered in war. The South, with its lack of manufacturing capability, was especially hard-pressed for uniforms. By the end of the war, many Southern soldiers fought barefoot and in little more than rags.
The Union soldiers were only a little better off.
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American Romantic writers wrote scholarly and often moralistic works. Their writing was sentimental, nostalgic, idealistic, and designed to inspire lofty emotions. Crane, on the other hand, wanted to present his readers with as realistic a vision of life as possible.
Naturalists believed that actions and events resulted from biological or natural forces or from forces in the environment. They presented characters who had little or no choices; their decisions were predetermined by their environment, their biological makeup, or both.
The Red Badge of Courage shows certain Naturalistic tendencies as well. Modernist writers sought to express the uncertainty of the modern individuals who had lost connection to the beliefs and values of the past. Modernist writing is often fragmented, and themes are often left ambiguous, creating a sense of uncertainty in the reader.
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Modernist writers explored the subconscious mind through techniques like stream-of-consciousness. Stream-ofconsciousness writing is literary work that attempts to render the flow of feelings, thoughts, and impressions within the minds of characters. Other Modernists, called Imagists, presented clear snapshots of a moment in time without telling the reader how to feel about the picture or image but relying on the image itself to produce emotion in the reader.
Other Modernist writers, known as Surrealists, strove to heighten awareness by placing together seemingly unrelated images and forcing the reader or viewer to look for possible connections.
The novel was written more than a hundred years ago and is set in an even earlier time. Ideas that may have been common in the s are less common today. Here are some tips that might make passages in the novel easier for you to understand. Heroism and honor in war: Behaving with honor in war and becoming a war hero were dreams commonly held by young men in the nineteenth century.
Many parents and communities expected young men to go off to war and fight; it was something a young man did as part of growing up. Far more young men than today attended military school to train in the art of war. It was always carried at the front of the regiment in battle, and carrying it was a great honor even though doing so often meant death. Desertion: While deserting the field of battle is still considered a very serious crime for a soldier to commit, many people today may be unaware of how serious a crime it was during the Civil War.
Soldiers were in short supply; every man was needed. Soldiers who deserted the field of battle and were caught were punished in a number of ways. Some were publicly humiliated to teach them a lesson. Other were less fortunate and were branded with a letter on their faces that would mark them all their lives. Some deserters paid for their crime with their lives.
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Military terms: The weapons of war and military strategy were different in the s. Soldiers fought in tight ranks, shoulder to shoulder. Their weapons were mostly nonrepeating rifles. This means that after every shot, soldiers would have to stop and reload their weapons. Their rifles were also very inaccurate, making it difficult to hit men who were charging toward them. Rifles, also known as muskets, were fitted with sharp blades at the end called bayonets. Often when cavalry or horsemen charged, the men would steady their rifles so that the horsemen would fall on the blades. Soldiers also used the bayonets in hand-to-hand combat, especially because their rifles were so inaccurate.
Rather than bombs, large heavy guns, called artillery, were pulled in wagons by horses and used to launch exploding shells. If you have difficulty understanding the action because of military terms, ask your teacher for recommendations about films set in the Civil War. Seeing such films might help you to envision the military action of the book.
Proper names: The author chose not to refer to his characters by their given names very often. If you become confused about the identity of a character, refer to the list of characters at the beginning of this book. Dialect: The novel is filled with dialect, writing that imitates the language spoken by the people of a particular place and time.
This dialect appears in dialogue, or when the characters are speaking to each other. Crane uses many contractions and different spellings of words that capture how they were spoken, rather than how you usually see them written. Some of this dialect is footnoted. If you have trouble understanding the dialect, try sounding it out aloud. If you still have difficulty, skim these passages and use the Guided Reading Questions as clues to get the general sense of a passage that gives you trouble.
Many difficult terms appear as Words for Everyday Use, at the bottoms of pages and in a Glossary at the end of this book. If the context of the sentence still does not help you, read on to see if you understand the sense of the passage as a whole.