The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the morning, Henry wakes to the distant sounds of battle, which sound as if they have no beginning or end. Looking around in the grayish light of dawn, Henry mistakes the other sleeping soldiers for corpses. A second later he realizes they're alive, but he feels his vision may come true on a bloody battlefield in the future.
The noise signifies the endless grind of the war machine. Henry's vision might be of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War's bloodiest battle and his regiment's most likely next stop.
Themes
The War Machine Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
Bugles, drums, and shrill officers help stir the sleepy camp to life. Among the grumbling soldiers, Wilson tends the fire. When Wilson adjusts Henry's bandage, Henry lashes out in irritation, and Wilson offers him breakfast. When three soldiers nearby get into a scuffle, Wilson goes to intervene and settles their dispute. Henry reflects on the changes in Wilson: no longer a testy, belligerent youth, Wilson is now quieter and humble, but confident in his abilities.
Wilson was initially a "loud young soldier" to compensate for his fears. Now, having faced his fears and admitted his personal limitations, he is a quieter and confident man. Henry still hasn't gotten there, as his testy reaction to Wilson shows.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
Henry and Wilson talk about the previous day. Wilson says the regiment saw hard fighting, but Henry reassures him that they didn't see anything compared to the fighting he has experienced. Henry tells him Jim Conklin is dead. Wilson says the regiment lost half their men in the fight, but many were just scattered, fighting alongside other regiments and then returning, just like Henry.
Henry, who ran, puts down the fighting that Wilson actually saw. Henry is still the loud, bragging boy that Wilson used to be. WIlson doesn't realize it, but his comment about soldiers from the regiment getting "scattered" implies that many men did just what Henry did: ran, only to return later claiming to have fought in order to avoid looking like cowards.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon