The Red Badge of Courage (Classic Collection Series)

The Red Badge of Courage (Classic Collection Series)

3.5 171
by Stephen Crane

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Henry Fleming is primed to prove his patriotism and to earn that “red badge of courage.”

Bored with farm life, and anxious for some excitement, Henry Fleming sets off to join the Union troops fighting the Civil War. An inexperienced fighter, he is anxious to get into battle to prove his worth. He swaggers to keep up his spirits waiting for

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Henry Fleming is primed to prove his patriotism and to earn that “red badge of courage.”

Bored with farm life, and anxious for some excitement, Henry Fleming sets off to join the Union troops fighting the Civil War. An inexperienced fighter, he is anxious to get into battle to prove his worth. He swaggers to keep up his spirits waiting for battle, but when suddenly thrust into the slaughter, he is overcome with blind fear and runs from the field of battle.

He is ashamed when he joins the wounded, for he has not earned their "red badge of courage" and becomes enraged when he witnesses the death of his terribly maimed friend. In a confused struggle with his own army’s retreating soldiers, he is wounded but not by enemy gunfire. In an effort to redeem himself in his own eyes, he begins to fight frantically and, in the heat of battle, automatically seizes the regiment’s colors in a daring charge that proves him truly courageous.

This novel is part of Brilliance Audio's extensive Classic Collection, bringing you timeless masterpieces that you and your family are sure to love.

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Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Classic Collection Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

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Chapter 1

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 in the low brows of distant hills.

Once a certain tall soldier developed virtues and went resolutely to wash a shirt. He came flying back from a brook waving his garment bannerlike. He was swelled with a tale he had heard from a reliable friend, who had heard it from a truthful cavalryman, who had heard it from his trustworthy brother, one of the orderlies at division headquarters. He adopted the important air of a herald in red and gold.

"We're goin' t' move t' morrah--sure," he said pompously to a group in the company street. "We're goin' 'way up the river, cut across, an' come around in behint 'em."

To his attentive audience he drew a loud and elaborate plan of a very brilliant campaign. When he had finished, the blue-clothed men scattered into small arguing groups between the rows of squat brown huts. A negro teamster who had been dancing upon a cracker box with the hilarious encouragement of two-score soldiers was deserted. He sat mournfully down. Smoke drifted lazily from a multitude of quaint chimneys.

"It's a lie! that's all it is--athunderin' lie!" said another private loudly. His smooth face was flushed, and his hands were thrust sulkily into his trousers' pockets. He took the matter as an affront to him. "I don't believe the derned old army's ever going to move. We're set. I've got ready to move eight times in the last two weeks, and we ain't moved yet."

The tall soldier felt called upon to defend the truth of a rumor he himself had introduced. He and the loud one came near to fighting over it.

A corporal began to swear before the assemblage. He had just put a costly board floor in his house, he said. During the early spring he had refrained from adding extensively to the comfort of his environment because he had felt that the army might start on the march at any moment. Of late, however, he had been impressed that they were in a sort of eternal camp.

Many of the men engaged in a spirited debate. One outlined in a peculiarly lucid manner all the plans of the commanding general. He was opposed by men who advocated that there were other plans of campaign. They clamored at each other, numbers making futile bids for the popular attention. Meanwhile, the soldier who had fetched the rumor bustled about with much importance. He was continually assailed by questions.

"What's up, Jim?"

"Th' army's goin' t' move."

"Ah, what yeh talkin' about. How yeh know it is?"

"Well, yeh kin b'lieve me er not, jest as yeh like. I don't care a hang."

There was much food for thought in the manner in which he replied. He came near to convincing them by disdaining to produce proofs. They grew much excited over it.

There was a youthful private who listened with eager ears to the words of the tall soldier and to the varied comments of his comrades. After receiving a fill of discussions concerning marches and attacks, he went to his hut and crawled through an intricate hole that served it as a door. He wished to be alone with some new thoughts that had lately come to him.

He lay down on a wide bunk that stretched across the end of the room. In the other end, cracker boxes were made to serve as furniture. They were grouped about the fireplace. A picture from an illustrated weekly was upon the log walls, and three rifles were paralleled on pegs. Equipments hung on handy projections, and some tin dishes lay upon a small pile of firewood. A folded tent was serving as a roof. The sunlight, without, beating upon it, made it glow a light yellow shade. A small window shot an oblique square of whiter light upon the cluttered floor. The smoke from the fire at times neglected the clay chimney and wreathed into the room, and this flimsy chimney of clay and sticks made endless threats to set ablaze the whole establishment.

The youth was in a little trance of astonishment. So they were at last going to fight. On the morrow, perhaps, there would be a battle, and he would be in it. For a time he was obliged to labor to make himself believe. He could not accept with assurance an omen that he was about to mingle in one of those great affairs of the earth.

He had, of course, dreamed of battles all his life--of vague and bloody conflicts that had thrilled him with their sweep and fire. In visions he had seen himself in many struggles. He had imagined peoples secure in the shadow of his eagle-eyed prowess. But awake he had regarded battles as crimson blotches on the pages of the past. He had put them as things of the bygone with his thought-images of heavy crowns and high castles. There was a portion of the world's history which he had regarded as the time of wars, but it, he thought, had been long gone over the horizon and had disappeared forever.

From his home his youthful eyes had looked upon the war in his own country with distrust. It must be some sort of a play affair. He had long despaired of witnessing a Greeklike struggle. Such would be no more, he had said. Men were better, or more timid. Secular and religious education had effaced the throat-grappling instinct, or else firm finance held in check the passions.

He had burned several times to enlist. Tales of great movements shook the land. They might not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to be much glory in them. He had read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds.

But his mother had discouraged him. She had affected to look with some contempt upon the quality of his war ardor and patriotism. She could calmly seat herself and with no apparent difficulty give him many hundreds of reasons why he was of vastly more importance on the farm than on the field of battle. She had had certain ways of expression that told him that her statements on the subject came from a deep conviction. Moreover, on her side, was his belief that her ethical motive in the argument was impregnable.

At last, however, he had made firm rebellion against this yellow light thrown upon the color of his ambitions. The newspapers, the gossip of the village, his own picturings, had aroused him to an uncheckable degree. They were in truth fighting finely down there. Almost every day the newspapers printed accounts of a decisive victory.

One night, as he lay in bed, the winds had carried to him the clangoring of the church bell as some enthusiast jerked the rope frantically to tell the twisted news of a great battle. This voice of the people rejoicing in the night had made him shiver in a prolonged ecstasy of excitement. Later, he had gone down to his mother's room and had spoken thus: "Ma, I'm going to enlist."

"Henry, don't you be a fool," his mother had replied. She had then covered her face with the quilt. There was an end to the matter for that night.

Nevertheless, the next morning he had gone to a town that was near his mother's farm and had enlisted in a company that was forming there. When he had returned home his mother was milking the brindle cow. Four others stood waiting. "Ma, I've enlisted," he had said to her diffidently. There was a short silence. "The Lord's will be done, Henry," she had finally replied, and had then continued to milk the brindle cow.

When he had stood in the doorway with his soldier's clothes on his back, and with the light of excitement and expectancy in his eyes almost defeating the glow of regret for the home bonds, he had seen two tears leaving their trails on his mother's scarred cheeks.

Still, she had disappointed him by saying nothing whatever about returning with his shield or on it. He had privately primed himself for a beautiful scene. He had prepared certain sentences which he thought could be used with touching effect. But her words destroyed his plans. She had doggedly peeled potatoes and addressed him as follows: "You watch out, Henry, an' take good care of yerself in this here fighting business--you watch out, an' take good care of yerself. Don't go a-thinkin' you can lick the hull rebel army at the start, because yeh can't. Yer jest one little feller amongst a hull lot of others, and yeh've got to keep quiet an' do what they tell yeh. I know how you are, Henry.

"I've knet yeh eight pair of socks, Henry, and I've put in all yer best shirts, because I want my boy to be jest as warm and comf'able as anybody in the army. Whenever they get holes in 'em, I want yeh to send 'em rightaway back to me, so's I kin dern 'em.

"An' allus be careful an' choose yer comp'ny. There's lots of bad men in the army, Henry. The army makes 'em wild, and they like nothing better than the job of leading off a young feller like you, as ain't never been away from home much and has allus had a mother, an' a-learning 'em to drink and swear. Keep clear of them folks, Henry. I don't want yeh to ever do anything, Henry, that yeh would be 'shamed to let me know about. Jest think as if I was a-watchin' yeh. If yeh keep that in yer mind allus, I guess yeh'll come out about right.

"Yeh must allus remember yer father, too, child, an' remember he never drunk a drop of licker in his life, and seldom swore a cross oath.

"I don't know what else to tell yeh, Henry, excepting that yeh must never do no shirking, child, on my account. If so be a time comes when yeh have to be kilt or do a mean thing, why, Henry, don't think of anything 'cept what's right, because there's many a woman has to bear up 'ginst sech things these times, and the Lord 'll take keer of us all.

"Don't forgit about the socks and the shirts, child; and I've put a cup of blackberry jam with yer bundle, because I know yeh like it above all things. Good-by, Henry. Watch out, and be a good boy."

He had, of course, been impatient under the ordeal of this speech. It had not been quite what he expected, and he had borne it with an air of irritation. He departed feeling vague relief.

Still, when he had looked back from the gate, he had seen his mother kneeling among the potato parings. Her brown face, upraised, was stained with tears, and her spare form was quivering. He bowed his head and went on, feeling suddenly ashamed of his purposes.

From his home he had gone to the seminary to bid adieu to many schoolmates. They had thronged about him with wonder and admiration. He had felt the gulf now between them and had swelled with calm pride. He and some of his fellows who had donned blue were quite overwhelmed with privileges for all of one afternoon, and it had been a very delicious thing. They had strutted.

A certain light-haired girl had made vivacious fun at his martial spirit, but there was another and darker girl whom he had gazed at steadfastly, and he thought she grew demure and sad at sight of his blue and brass. As he had walked down the path between the rows of oaks, he had turned his head and detected her at a window watching his departure. As he perceived her, she had immediately begun to stare up through the high tree branches at the sky. He had seen a good deal of flurry and haste in her movement as she changed her attitude. He often thought of it.

On the way to Washington his spirit had soared. The regiment was fed and caressed at station after station until the youth had believed that he must be a hero. There was a lavish expenditure of bread and cold meats, coffee, and pickles and cheese. As he basked in the smiles of the girls and was patted and complimented by the old men, he had felt growing within him the strength to do mighty deeds of arms.

After complicated journeyings with many pauses, there had come months of monotonous life in a camp. He had had the belief that real war was a series of death struggles with small time in between for sleep and meals; but since his regiment had come to the field the army had done little but sit still and try to keep warm.

He was brought then gradually back to his old ideas. Greeklike struggles would be no more. Men were better, or more timid. Secular and religious education had effaced the throat-grappling instinct, or else firm finance held in check the passions.

He had grown to regard himself merely as a part of a vast blue demonstration. His province was to look out, as far as he could, for his personal comfort. For recreation he could twiddle his thumbs and speculate on the thoughts which must agitate the minds of the generals. Also, he was drilled and drilled and reviewed, and drilled and drilled and reviewed.

The only foes he had seen were some pickets along the river bank. They were a sun-tanned, philosophical lot, who sometimes shot reflectively at the blue pickets. When reproached for this afterward, they usually expressed sorrow, and swore by their gods that the guns had exploded without their permission. The youth, on guard duty one night, conversed across the stream with one of them. He was a slightly ragged man, who spat skillfully between his shoes and possessed a great fund of bland and infantile assurance. The youth liked him personally.

"Yank," the other had informed him, "yer a right dum good feller." This sentiment, floating to him upon the still air, had made him temporarily regret war.

Various veterans had told him tales. Some talked of gray, bewhiskered hordes who were advancing with relentless curses and chewing tobacco with unspeakable valor; tremendous bodies of fierce soldiery who were sweeping along like the Huns. Others spoke of tattered and eternally hungry men who fired despondent powders. "They'll charge through hell's fire an' brimstone t' git a holt on a haversack, an' sech stomachs ain't a-lastin' long," he was told. From the stories, the youth imagined the red, live bones, sticking out through slits in the faded uniforms.

Copyright© 1981 by Stephen Crane

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What People are saying about this

Joseph Conrad
as to 'masterpiece,' there is no doubt that The Red Badge of Courage is that, if only because of the marvellous accord of the vivid impressionistic description of action on that woodland battlefield and the imagined style of the analysis of ... the inward moral struggle going on in the breast of one individual - the Young Soldier.

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The Red Badge of Courage 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 171 reviews.
mothman More than 1 year ago
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is a classic. It is about Henry Fleming, a country boy, in 1863 that joined the Union side of the Civil War. This book is awesome. The author really knows how to write. This book makes you feel like you are in the war. The action is the best I have read. It is definitely an easy but fun read. It really summarizes the Civil War experience. The men in this have a lot of courage. It is like Stephen Crane was in the war. It is sad to read that Henry sees a lot of his friends die in the battle. You find out in that time war was very hard. There was a lot of difficulty getting around. It is amazing that these people could do this, but they did not give up. This book shows that we are the bravest of them all. The Battles take place in Chancellorsville, WV. War books are my favorite, and that is why I read this book. I suggest this book for young readers that like action and war. This amazing book should be in every library in the world because it is so good. This is one of the best books I ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nico16 More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was interesting. The writing in it was definitely different from any other book I have ever read. At sometimes it was difficult, other times it could be too descriptive, and other times it was just confusing to the point that you had to read it a second time. If you could understand it, there were parts that were actually very good. Personally, i thought the characters were very well created, and i liked the ways that they changed at the end of the book. I wouldn't recommend the book, but if you are up for a challenge, give it a shot.
wesleym More than 1 year ago
This amazing book that I read is called The Red Badge of Courage. This is a good historical fiction book by Stephen Crane. This book is interesting because of the battles that the main character goes through. Henry Fleming, the main character of this book, is a country boy. He is sensitive, and he is also confused about the war. There is another character in the story. In the story he is called tall soldier. The setting of this story is during the Civil War, it doesn't give a particular date, but I'm guessing it's around 1861 - 1865 or so. It is also set in a southern state. This book is about bravery and courage. It is this because Henry has to have bravery and courage while he's in the war, because of all the battles. Henry Flemings signed up for the army at the beginning of the story. He then was accepted to the army. He then went into many battles. At one of the battles he tried to run away because he got scared. After that he had to march for a really long time to go to another battle. Then most of his friends he got in the army were all being killed. Three of them were stabbed. I thought this book was pretty cool. I liked the book mostly because of the battles he goes into, it makes it exiting. The only thing I didn't like about the book was it was kind of boring in some parts.
Aidda More than 1 year ago
As far as classic literature goes this is one of the more engaging. The entirety of the book takes place on and between battlefields. Some people will claim the book has no plot but more experienced readers will find that the conflict lies within the narrator himself. The book combines elements of the struggle within our own minds to protect ourselves and do what we¿re suppose to with the physical struggles of war. This literature will probably not be as enjoyable to readers who don¿t wanting to dig any deeper than surface deep into the book, but for those that do the novel holds some very interesting things to muse on.

The real story is father down than skin deep if the reader is willing to look.
NotAustin More than 1 year ago
The Red Badge of Courage, a book written by Stephen Crane tells us about a young boy who decides to fight in the American Civil War. The story revolves around a farm boy named Henry Fleming. Dreaming of the glory of war, he recklessly enrolls to join the 304th Regiment and is confronted with the hardships of battle. At first Henry is doubting whether or not he will run from a confrontation with the opposing Confederates. Unfortunately, Henry runs away from his first battle after thinking it was the smart move to do. The soldiers who stayed behind ended up winning, underscoring the cowardice of Henry. He ends up running into a forest, and witnessed the death of a soldier in his regiment. With the dying thirst to prove himself, Henry has an internal conflict within himself. He fights with courage and valor the next battle and distinguishes himself as one of the best fighters in his regiment. His commanding lieutenant comments that if he had 10,000 wildcats like him, they could win the war in a week. I have mixed views about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, themes, and symbols that are conveyed throughout the book. I dislike the sudden difficulty of vocabulary and understanding the concept of the book proved to be a challenging endeavor. One part of the plot I enjoyed was the time when Henry went all out during his second battle and took down many foes. His lieutenant even commended him on his awesome talent. One of the themes in the book is courage. Henry believes that he will be honored greatly for his courage if he joins the war efforts against the Confederate states. He joins the war blindly without second thought and greatly worries his mother. Last but not least, a symbol that is highlighted in this story is when Henry encounters the dead man in the forest. This symbolizes that even though the man died in battle, he is not even given any recognition for his actions. This proves that Henry's original reason to join the war is invalid.
yearningtoread More than 1 year ago
Henry Fleming, a young man who joined the army against his mother's wishes, wants to know the meaning of courage. He wants to be brave, to fight in the war and be honored for his love for his country. But then come the doubts, the rage, the fear. And Henry, the youth, must learn the hard way what it really means to wear the red badge of courage. It's a short novel, and beautifully crafted and written and built, but it's not an easy read, per se. (I want to read it again soon because I had a to read it a little fast for my liking in order to get my homework done.) Most of the characters have names, but Crane tends to use their character handles in reference to them. Henry is most often referred to as "the youth." There is the "tall soldier," "the loud soldier," etc. This is a very original and - I found - fascinating way to identify the characters, but for a reader who is not used to reading like that, it is more difficult and takes more time. Crane also uses many metaphors to describe the battefields and what "the youth" is feeling. He also uses a lot of color. And while this makes for a beautiful story with beautiful illustrations, it is a bit harder to follow. But don't let that stop you. By all means, read this book. What fasinated me most about it was the way I felt while reading it. I could picture everything perfectly. The battlescenes flowed from beginning to end, ever deathly and beautiful all in one. I almost felt like I was reading in slow motion. I could picture "the youth" scrambling in the field, avoiding every bullet and tumbling into the trees in fright. I was there, among the soldiers. I was fighting and killing and brandishing a weapon. I saw the battles in a three dimensional whirl-wind of color, with bullets singeing my face and debris cutting my skin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. If you are like me and love military novels you will love this book. As soon as you pick up this book you will be lost in the journey and history of the civil war. In this book you fallow a young man that comes into the store a week little boy but at end he comes out a strong man. If you think you will never de strong you should read this book and you will soon change your mind. This book would be best for teens or adults.
chevy3000 More than 1 year ago
The Red Badge Of Courage is a great book.I recommend this book to any 7th grader, it's easy to read and if you like books about wars this is the book for you
BilleBoi More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a little hard to follow when the characters are talking, but overall, it was entertaining. There were some suspenseful moments, boring parts, and parts that just made no sense at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever i love it highly recommened
Anonymous 12 months ago
Jeep_Thang More than 1 year ago
I love going back and reading the classics a couple of time a year. This was one of those times and one of those books. While I did not have the honor of serving my country in the military, I do come from a strong military family and am an avid military book and movie buff. I found this book one of the most realistic battle reads of all time. Great characters. Great plot. Loved the period dialog. Highly recommend this to any military junkie who hasn't read it since high school.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hm. I think I scared everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ima be June Iparis!!!!!! Teddeh knows.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reses changed. It is at res four
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gtg bb ASAP!
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doubleLdoubleT More than 1 year ago
Historical Fiction is a very tricky genre. On one hand it gives a wondrous and personal view of the participants in major historical events. Yet on the other, the line between fiction and fact bleeds onto one another, mixing so thoroughly, you can no longer tell which is which.  Historical fiction is definitely preferable to the regular old and dull (and often quite biased) textbook, and to read from the (supposed) perspective of a participant like you would read one of a fictional character in a fantasy book, really enlightens the reader to grasp, on the individual level, the thoughts, feelings and roles of the previously insignificant character you had never heard of.  The “Red Badge of Courage” is a work of historical fiction, and also fulfills the aforementioned description of the genre. The blurb does a very poor job of describing the classic text, so I will revise their summary.  The “Red Badge of Courage” is a compelling text about the moral struggles of a young man in the Union Army who struggles between the glory and dignity of the battle field and the self preservation, running from battle in order to preserve one’s  life.  The first battle takes place and the youth finds himself  running when the Confederates return after a long battle. He eventually returns with the wish to receive a “Red Badge of Courage” or a wound in battle.  This text describes in great detail the thoughts and feelings of the pre-battle adrenaline rush and the thoughts we all  wish we didn’t have that lean toward the cowardly side in an epic tale of the battles of  the Civil War. This text while immensely difficult with language and the mixing of metaphors and the actual events happening, does bring new light to the Civil War, in the sense that the author (while most likely using a lot of guesswork) shows the reader the thoughts that go through a young soldiers head when faced with an actual battle, building much empathy for the character because seeing their thoughts opens the character up, and makes it exceedingly easy for the reader to connect or at least understand the character. Thus understanding the gravity, gore and events in the Civil War. While a very difficult text (with the speech and descriptions) this book is extremely informing and helpful to build understanding of the Civil War. A classical text with a very important moral theme. I would recommend this text to any bookworm / book-aholic who likes a good challenge and enjoys classical texts and very-hard-to-read-english-sort-of.  :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Red Badge of Courage is a book that was published in 1895 and was loosely based on the American Civil war, although the book never mentions the name of the war or any battles that took place in it. This book itself is about a young man named Henry Fleming who has a flawed sense of courage and honor that begins to manifest itself into the characteristics of a true war hero as he encounters more battle and death. He is very quick to justify his actions no matter how good or bad they truly are. He even ran from a battle that had just began and then justified this by stating that he was the smart one for running because the enemy would have overwhelmed his fellow soldiers. He eventually made his way back to his regiment and continued with them for the rest of the novel. Over time, Henry begins to realize how a true soldier should act and that his previous actions were that of a coward. In the final battle of the book, Henry finds himself surrounded by his fellow soldiers and he realizes how a true soldier acts. He fights with intent and selflessness and is then rewarded by the officers for this. He learns that running away and lying will not solve your problems or make you a hero; you need to believe in yourself and your companions no matter what happens. Never give up, especially when people are counting on you. This was a very good book and I believe that it should be on most people to do list. A few things that I really enjoyed about this book was how vivid the detail was, how much the characters progress and grow, and the style of the writing itself. Stephen Crane wrote this book and filled it with emotion that you would expect to come from someone who had experienced these events. Crane was not a war veteran, he had never seen a battle, and yet he was able to invoke an astonishing amount of realism in this book. Some of the bad things about this book have some slivers of positivity to them. The way this book was written makes it hard for the reader to completely understand what is happening, but this is the way books and grammar was over a hundred years ago. Even though it can be hard to read at times, the reader still is able to get a full grasp of the emotion and thought in this book. Another thing about this book is that it can be slightly racist/sexist at times but once again, this was common in those times. A song sung by the troops in the book said “A dog, a women, an’ a walnut tree, the more you beat ‘em, th’ better they be!” which is very sexist but shows how the people of this time thought. Overall, I give this book an 8.5 of 10.