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

THE CRITICS

Henry's regeneration is brought about by the death of Jim Conklin... but there are unmistakable hints... that he is intended to represent Jesus Christ.... Crane intended to suggest here the sacrificial death celebrated in communion... the wafer signifies the sacramental blood and body of Christ, and the process of his spiritual rebirth begins at this moment when the wafer-like sun appears in the sky. It is a symbol of salvation through death.

Robert Stallman, "Introduction" to The Red Badge of Courage, 1951

If we were to seek a geometrical shape to picture the significant form of The Red Badge, it would not be the circle, the L, or the straight line of oscillation between selfishness and salvation, but the equilateral triangle. Its three points are instinct, ideals, and circumstance. Henry Fleming runs along the sides like a squirrel in a track. Ideals take him along one side until circumstance confronts him with danger. Then instinct takes over and he dashes down the third side in a panic. The panic abates somewhat as he approaches the angle of ideals, and as he turns the corner (continuing his flight) he busily rationalizes to accommodate those ideals.... Then he runs on to the line of circumstance, and he moves again toward
instinct. He is always controlled on one line, along which he is both drawn and impelled by the two other forces.

Charles C. Walcutt, American Literary Naturalism: A Divided Stream, 1956


Thus The Red Badge of Courage, which is something of a tour de force as a novel and which is chiefly noted for the advance it marks in the onset of realism on the American literary scene, is transmongrified into a religious allegory.... Observe, too, that the evidence for this thesis is drawn, not from a study of the narrative progression of Crane's novel as a whole, but from a single image and the amalgam of the initials of the tall soldier's name with the name of Jesus Christ....

Philip Rahv, "Fiction and the Criticism of Fiction," 1956

Crane's magnum opus shows up the nature and value of courage. The heroic ideal is not what it has been claimed to be: so largely is it the product of instinctive responses to biological and traditional forces. But man does have will, and he has the ability to reflect, and though these do not guarantee that he can effect his own destiny, they do enable him to become responsible to some degree for the honesty of his personal vision.

Stanley B. Greenfield, "The Unmistakable Stephen Crane," 1958

ADVISORY BOARD

We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.

Murray Bromberg, Principal Wang High School of Queens, Holliswood, New York
Sandra Dunn, English Teacher Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York
Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department State University of New York at Stony Brook
Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee National Council of Teachers of English Student Guide Series Fort Morgan, Colorado
Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher Tamalpais Union High School District Mill Valley, California
Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English State University of New York College at Buffalo Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies State University of New York College at Geneseo
Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education State University of New York at Buffalo Frank O'Hare, Professor of English Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee National Council of Teachers of English Director of Curriculum and Instruction Guilderland Central School District, New York
Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois

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