The Red Badge of Courage

by: Stephen Crane

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing help Suggested Essay Topics

1. Compare and contrast Henry, Wilson, and Jim. What does each character seem to represent? How does Crane’s focus on the inner workings of Henry’s mind give the reader a picture of Henry that is different from that of any other character?

2. Thinking about Crane’s portrayal of the Civil War as a large historical phenomenon, how does Crane depict the different armies? What differences, if any, does he draw between them? What is his approach to the moral element of the struggle, and how does it differ from the usual approach to Civil War fiction?

3. Consider Henry’s flashback to his conversation with his mother in Chapter I. What is his mother’s attitude about his enlisting in the first place? How does her advice foreshadow the main themes of the novel?

4. In the author’s point of view, is it wrong for Henry to run from the battle? Is it wrong for him to abandon the tattered soldier? More broadly, does The Red Badge of Courage have a moral center, or does it deny that moral categories such as “right” and “wrong” can exist in an indifferent universe?