The Red Badge of Courage
Important Quotations Explained
felt that in this crisis his laws of life were useless. Whatever
he had learned of himself was here of no avail. He was an unknown
quantity. He saw that he would again be obliged to experiment as
he had in early youth. He must accumulate information of himself,
and meanwhile he resolved to remain close upon his guard lest those
qualities of which he knew nothing should everlastingly disgrace him.
suddenly lost concern for himself, and forgot to look at a menacing
fate. He became not a man but a member. He felt that something of
which he was a part—a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country—was
in a crisis. He was welded into a common personality which was dominated
by a single desire. For some moments he could not flee, no more
than a little finger can commit a revolution from a hand.
self-pride was now entirely restored. In the shade of its flourishing
growth he stood with braced and self-confident legs, and since nothing
could now be discovered he did not shrink from an encounter with
the eyes of judges, and allowed no thoughts of his own to keep him
from an attitude of manfulness. He had performed his mistakes in
the dark, so he was still a man.
men dropped here and there like bundles. The captain of the youth’s
company had been killed in an early part of the action. His body
lay stretched out in the position of a tired man resting, but upon
his face there was an astonished and sorrowful look, as if he thought
some friend had done him an ill turn. The babbling man was grazed
by a shot that made the blood stream widely down his face. He clapped both
hands to his head. “Oh!” he said, and ran. Another grunted suddenly
as if a club had struck him in the stomach. He sat down and gazed
ruefully. In his eyes there was mute, indefinite reproach. Farther
up the line a man, standing behind a tree, had had his knee joint
splintered by a ball. Immediately he had dropped his rifle and gripped
the tree with both arms. And there he remained, clinging desperately and
crying for assistance that he might withdraw his hold upon the tree.
saw his vivid error, and he was afraid that it would stand before
him all his life. He took no share in the chatter of his comrades,
nor did he look at them or know them, save when he felt sudden suspicion
that they were seeing his thoughts and scrutinizing each detail
of the scene with the tattered soldier. Yet gradually he mustered
force to put the sin at a distance. And at last his eyes seemed
to open to some new ways. He found that he could look back upon
the brass and bombast of his earlier gospels and see them truly.
He was gleeful when he discovered that he now despised them. With the
conviction came a store of assurance. He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive
but of sturdy and strong blood. He knew that he would no more quail
before his guides wherever they should point. He had been to touch
the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great
death. He was a man.
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