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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage

STEPHEN CRANE
EDITED AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY PAUL SORRENTINO
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 192
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0fzb
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  • Book Info
    The Red Badge of Courage
    Book Description:

    The John Harvard Library presents the first American edition of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, one of the first non-romantic novels of the Civil War - and the first account to gain wide popularity. Paul Sorrentino introduces Red Badge to a new generation of readers for a fuller appreciation of the novel and its effects.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-05368-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction (pp. vii-xx)
    Paul Sorrentino

    Though best known forThe Red Badge of Courage,Stephen Crane was also the author of three novels (and the greater part of a fourth novel left unfinished at his death and completed by another writer), three novellas, two collections of poetry, about seventy-five war dispatches, and more than one hundred short stories and sketches. The most innovative American writer of the 1890s, he employed techniques such as irony and impressionism more often associated with the modern writers who followed him. Crane also explored the lives of characters with limited perspectives, what he called their “own little cylinder of vision”...

  4. Note on the Text (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  5. Chronology of Stephen Crane’s Life (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  6. THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
    • CHAPTER 1 (pp. 1-11)

      The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing from long troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber-tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the army’s feet; and at night, when the stream had become of a sorrowful blackness, one could see across it the red, eyelike gleam of hostile camp-fires set...

    • CHAPTER 2 (pp. 12-20)

      The next morning the youth discovered that his tall comrade had been the fast-flying messenger of a mistake. There was much scoffing at the latter by those who had yesterday been firm adherents of his views, and there was even a little sneering by men who had never believed the rumor. The tall one fought with a man from Chatfield Corners and beat him severely.

      The youth felt, however, that his problem was in no wise lifted from him. There was, on the contrary, an irritating prolongation. The tale had created in him a great concern for himself. Now, with...

    • CHAPTER 3 (pp. 21-30)

      When another night came the columns, changed to purple streaks, filed across two pontoon bridges. A glaring fire wine-tinted the waters of the river. Its rays, shining upon the moving masses of troops, brought forth here and there sudden gleams of silver or gold. Upon the other shore a dark and mysterious range of hills was curved against the sky. The insect voices of the night sang solemnly.

      After this crossing the youth assured himself that at any moment they might be suddenly and fearfully assaulted from the caves of the lowering woods. He kept his eyes watchfully upon the...

    • CHAPTER 4 (pp. 31-34)

      The brigade was halted in the fringe of a grove. The men crouched among the trees and pointed their restless guns out at the fields. They tried to look beyond the smoke.

      Out of this haze they could see running men. Some shouted information and gestured as they hurried.

      The men of the new regiment watched and listened eagerly, while their tongues ran on in gossip of the battle. They mouthed rumors that had flown like birds out of the unknown.

      “They say Perry has been driven in with big loss.”

      “Yes, Carrott went t’ th’ hospital. He said he...

    • CHAPTER 5 (pp. 35-41)

      There were moments of waiting. The youth thought of the village street at home before the arrival of the circus parade on a day in the spring. He remembered how he had stood, a small, thrillful boy, prepared to follow the dingy lady upon the white horse, or the band in its faded chariot. He saw the yellow road, the lines of expectant people, and the sober houses. He particularly remembered an old fellow who used to sit upon a cracker box in front of the store and feign to despise such exhibitions. A thousand details of color and form...

    • CHAPTER 6 (pp. 42-49)

      The youth awakened slowly. He came gradually back to a position from which he could regard himself. For moments he had been scrutinizing his person in a dazed way as if he had never before seen himself. Then he picked up his cap from the ground. He wriggled in his jacket to make a more comfortable fit, and kneeling relaced his shoe. He thoughtfully mopped his reeking features.

      So it was all over at last! The supreme trial had been passed. The red, formidable difficulties of war had been vanquished.

      He went into an ecstasy of self-satisfaction. He had the...

    • CHAPTER 7 (pp. 50-54)

      The youth cringed as if discovered in a crime. By heavens, they had won after all! The imbecile line had remained and become victors. He could hear cheering.

      He lifted himself upon his toes and looked in the direction of the fight. A yellow fog lay wallowing on the treetops. From beneath it came the clatter of musketry. Hoarse cries told of an advance.

      He turned away amazed and angry. He felt that he had been wronged.

      He had fled, he told himself, because annihilation approached. He had done a good part in saving himself, who was a little piece...

    • CHAPTER 8 (pp. 55-60)

      The trees began softly to sing a hymn of twilight. The sun sank until slanted bronze rays struck the forest. There was a lull in the noises of insects as if they had bowed their beaks and were making a devotional pause. There was silence save for the chanted chorus of the trees.

      Then, upon this stillness, there suddenly broke a tremendous clangor of sounds. A crimson roar came from the distance.

      The youth stopped. He was transfixed by this terrific medley of all noises. It was as if worlds were being rended. There was the ripping sound of musketry...

    • CHAPTER 9 (pp. 61-66)

      The youth fell back in the procession until the tattered soldier was not in sight. Then he started to walk on with the others.

      But he was amid wounds. The mob of men was bleeding. Because of the tattered soldier’s question he now felt that his shame could be viewed. He was continually casting sidelong glances to see if the men were contemplating the letters of guilt he felt burned into his brow.

      At times he regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way. He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished that he, too, had...

    • CHAPTER 10 (pp. 67-71)

      The tattered man stood musing.

      “Well, he was reg’lar jim-dandy fer nerve, wa’n’t he,” said he finally in a little awestruck voice. “A reg’lar jim-dandy.” He thoughtfully poked one of the docile hands with his foot. “I wonner where he got ’is stren’th from? I never seen a man do like that before. It was a funny thing. Well, he was a reg’lar jim-dandy.”

      The youth desired to screech out his grief. He was stabbed, but his tongue lay dead in the tomb of his mouth. He threw himself again upon the ground and began to brood.

      The tattered man...

    • CHAPTER 11 (pp. 72-78)

      He became aware that the furnace roar of the battle was growing louder. Great brown clouds had floated to the still heights of air before him. The noise, too, was approaching. The woods filtered men and the fields became dotted.

      As he rounded a hillock, he perceived that the roadway was now a crying mass of wagons, teams, and men. From the heaving tangle issued exhortations, commands, imprecations. Fear was sweeping it all along. The cracking whips bit and horses plunged and tugged. The white-topped wagons strained and stumbled in their exertions like fat sheep.

      The youth felt comforted in...

    • CHAPTER 12 (pp. 79-85)

      The column that had butted stoutly at the obstacles in the roadway was barely out of the youth’s sight before he saw dark waves of men come sweeping out of the woods and down through the fields. He knew at once that the steel fibers had been washed from their hearts. They were bursting from their coats and their equipments as from entanglements. They charged down upon him like terrified buffaloes.

      Behind them blue smoke curled and clouded above the treetops, and through the thickets he could sometimes see a distant pink glare. The voices of the cannon were clamoring...

    • CHAPTER 13 (pp. 86-92)

      The youth went slowly toward the fire indicated by his departed friend. As he reeled, he bethought him of the welcome his comrades would give him. He had a conviction that he would soon feel in his sore heart the barbed missiles of ridicule. He had no strength to invent a tale; he would be a soft target.

      He made vague plans to go off into the deeper darkness and hide, but they were all destroyed by the voices of exhaustion and pain from his body. His ailments, clamoring, forced him to seek the place of food and rest, at...

    • CHAPTER 14 (pp. 93-98)

      When the youth awoke it seemed to him that he had been asleep for a thousand years, and he felt sure that he opened his eyes upon an unexpected world. Gray mists were slowly shifting before the first efforts of the sun rays. An impending splendor could be seen in the eastern sky. An icy dew had chilled his face, and immediately upon arousing he curled farther down into his blanket. He stared for a while at the leaves overhead, moving in a heraldic wind of the day.

      The distance was splintering and blaring with the noise of fighting. There...

    • CHAPTER 15 (pp. 99-102)

      The regiment was standing at order arms at the side of a lane, waiting for the command to march, when suddenly the youth remembered the little packet enwrapped in a faded yellow envelope which the loud young soldier with lugubrious words had intrusted to him. It made him start. He uttered an exclamation and turned toward his comrade.

      “Wilson!”

      “What?”

      His friend, at his side in the ranks, was thoughtfully staring down the road. From some cause his expression was at that moment very meek. The youth, regarding him with sidelong glances, felt impelled to change his purpose. “Oh, nothing,”...

    • CHAPTER 16 (pp. 103-108)

      A sputtering of musketry was always to be heard. Later, the cannon had entered the dispute. In the fog-filled air their voices made a thudding sound. The reverberations were continual. This part of the world led a strange, battleful existence.

      The youth’s regiment was marched to relieve a command that had lain long in some damp trenches. The men took positions behind a curving line of rifle pits that had been turned up, like a large furrow, along the line of woods. Before them was a level stretch, peopled with short, deformed stumps. From the woods beyond came the dull...

    • CHAPTER 17 (pp. 109-114)

      This advance of the enemy had seemed to the youth like a ruthless hunting. He began to fume with rage and exasperation. He beat his foot upon the ground, and scowled with hate at the swirling smoke that was approaching like a phantom flood. There was a maddening quality in this seeming resolution of the foe to give him no rest, to give him no time to sit down and think. Yesterday he had fought and had fled rapidly. There had been many adventures. For to-day he felt that he had earned opportunities for contemplative repose. He could have enjoyed...

    • CHAPTER 18 (pp. 115-119)

      The ragged line had respite for some minutes, but during its pause the struggle in the forest became magnified until the trees seemed to quiver from the firing and the ground to shake from the rushing of the men. The voices of the cannon were mingled in a long and interminable row. It seemed difficult to live in such an atmosphere. The chests of the men strained for a bit of freshness, and their throats craved water.

      There was one shot through the body, who raised a cry of bitter lamentation when came this lull. Perhaps he had been calling...

    • CHAPTER 19 (pp. 120-126)

      The youth stared at the land in front of him. Its foliages now seemed to veil powers and horrors. He was unaware of the machinery of orders that started the charge, although from the corners of his eyes he saw an officer, who looked like a boy a-horseback, come galloping, waving his hat. Suddenly he felt a straining and heaving among the men. The line fell slowly forward like a toppling wall, and, with a convulsive gasp that was intended for a cheer, the regiment began its journey. The youth was pushed and jostled for a moment before he understood...

    • CHAPTER 20 (pp. 127-132)

      When the two youths turned with the flag they saw that much of the regiment had crumbled away, and the dejected remnant was coming slowly back. The men, having hurled themselves in projectile fashion, had presently expended their forces. They slowly retreated, with their faces still toward the spluttering woods, and their hot rifles still replying to the din. Several officers were giving orders, their voices keyed to screams.

      “Where in hell yeh goin’?” the lieutenant was asking in a sarcastic howl. And a red-bearded officer, whose voice of triple brass could plainly be heard, was commanding: “Shoot into ’em!...

    • CHAPTER 21 (pp. 133-138)

      Presently they knew that no firing threatened them. All ways seemed once more opened to them. The dusty blue lines of their friends were disclosed a short distance away. In the distance there were many colossal noises, but in all this part of the field there was a sudden stillness.

      They perceived that they were free. The depleted band drew a long breath of relief and gathered itself into a bunch to complete its trip.

      In this last length of journey the men began to show strange emotions. They hurried with nervous fear. Some who had been dark and unfaltering...

    • CHAPTER 22 (pp. 139-144)

      When the woods again began to pour forth the dark-hued masses of the enemy the youth felt serene self-confidence. He smiled briefly when he saw men dodge and duck at the long screechings of shells that were thrown in giant handfuls over them. He stood, erect and tranquil, watching the attack begin against a part of the line that made a blue curve along the side of an adjacent hill. His vision being unmolested by smoke from the rifles of his companions, he had opportunities to see parts of the hard fight. It was a relief to perceive at last...

    • CHAPTER 23 (pp. 145-150)

      The colonel came running along back of the line. There were other officers following him. “We must charge’m!” they shouted. “We must charge’m!” they cried with resentful voices, as if anticipating a rebellion against this plan by the men.

      The youth, upon hearing the shouts, began to study the distance between him and the enemy. He made vague calculations. He saw that to be firm soldiers they must go forward. It would be death to stay in the present place, and with all the circumstances to go backward would exalt too many others. Their hope was to push the galling...

    • CHAPTER 24 (pp. 151-156)

      The roarings that had stretched in a long line of sound across the face of the forest began to grow intermittent and weaker. The stentorian speeches of the artillery continued in some distant encounter, but the crashes of the musketry had almost ceased. The youth and his friend of a sudden looked up, feeling a deadened form of distress at the waning of these noises, which had become a part of life. They could see changes going on among the troops. There were marchings this way and that way. A battery wheeled leisurely. On the crest of a small hill...

  7. Selected Bibliography (pp. 157-160)