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Free Barron's Booknotes Summary-The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
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CHAPTER 14

This chapter shows how much Wilson has changed and grown up. Wilson helped the young soldier to dress his wound and get some breakfast. Wilson was a clumsy nurse, and when the youth snapped at him, he apologized quietly. An enormous change seemed to have come over Wilson, the young soldier reflected. "He was no more a loud young soldier.... He showed a quiet belief in his purposes and his abilities.... The youth wondered where had been born these new eyes...." The young soldier points out the change to
Wilson, who replies, "I believe I was a pretty big fool in those days." This loud young soldier, so full of himself, has become calm, self-assured, and gentle. His growth parallels that of the young soldier.


NOTE:

It seems as if Wilson is almost a new person. We haven't seen what happened to him in the previous day's battle, because we were following Henry. What do you think might have happened to change him so? Does it seem possible to you that someone would become so different after only one day of fighting?

The two talk quietly about the previous day's fighting, and the young soldier tells Wilson about Jim Conklin's death. As the young soldier describes what he saw, we realize that he has seen battle, even if he didn't quite participate in it. Still, he talks to Wilson as if he really had seen fighting-"Why, lord, man, you didn't see nothing of the fight." That isn't precisely true. The chapter's ending is curious. Wilson tells the young soldier that many other men disappeared "Jest like you done." With the young soldier, we are inclined to ask, "So?" Does this mean that some really were separated from the regiment by accident, or that other men deserted and then returned to the regiment?

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