The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The regiment marches to relieve other soldiers dug into some trenches. Settling in, Wilson puts his head down and promptly falls asleep. The firing of muskets and cannons swells to a tremendous roar.
Earlier, Wilson was terrified when faced with battle. Now, having faced his fear, he takes a nap.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
When the gunfire dies down, the soldiers share rumors that their army has suffered a terrible defeat. The regiment is pulled back and Henry catches glimpses of the gray enemy and hears their triumphant yells.
The noise of war drowns out thoughts and feelings. When it gets quiet, the men come back from battle mode to themselves.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
Henry starts complaining about his commanders, telling other soldiers that the generals must be idiots because their soldiers are fighting hard and still losing. Another soldier sarcastically says that Henry must think he fought yesterday's battle all by himself. Henry, stung and afraid that his secret will be discovered, quickly quiets down.
The soldiers try to pass the blame. Since they don't control their own fates and want to seem courageous, they can't admit fault or defeat. But when Henry carries it too far, he feels exposed as a hypocrite.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
The lieutenant leads them back to a position in a clearing and tells his complaining soldiers to shut up—less talking, more fighting. But they're tired and annoyed, and feel hounded by the relentless enemy. Forming into a line, they wearily await the approaching charge.
The oppressive noise and enemy fire makes the soldiers feel trapped and alone. This setting amplifies the psychological tension, which is just as much a part of battle as gunfire.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
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