The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
All the battles on the fields start to wind down. Orders soon come for the regiment to march back to its camp on the river.
Notice how the regiment walks away from all the ground it just fought to win.
Themes
The War Machine Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
During the walk, Henry's mindset changes from hardened battle-mode to more everyday thoughts. He starts to study all of his past actions. He remembers running away from battle. Now he knows he was wrong but forgives himself for being a novice.
Henry's thoughts fit his past mistakes into a narrative about his character. He recasts his story now as the tale of how he became a courageous man...
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Henry then remembers the tattered man and cringes. As the regiment chats about their victory, Henry is sad and silent, worried that abandoning the tattered man will always haunt him. But Henry has an insight: yes, his guilt will remain, but his guilt will also make him a better man. Henry is glad he can look back with disgust at his boasts and naïve attitudes about war.
...but it's not that easy. Henry still has guilt that haunts him. The tattered man doesn't fit into the story Henry wants to tell about himself. So he revises that story again, and it gets more complex, incorporating contradictions and faults.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
Henry thinks he sees things with new eyes. He realizes that, in the big picture, he is tiny but not insignificant. With this balance of humility and self-esteem, Henry feels a "quiet manhood."
Henry finally realizes what Wilson already did. Even though his role is small, Henry commits to playing it as best he can.
Themes
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
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It starts to rain and the soldiers grumble as they trudge through the mud. But Henry smiles, believing again that he has a place in the world. Relieved to be out of battle, Henry imagines tranquil scenes and "an existence of soft and eternal peace." Then a ray of sunlight breaks through the low clouds.
Having a much better sense of himself, Henry can relax. He has also matured in wanting peace, rather than war. The ray of sunlight suggests hope, but is also a reminder of nature's indifference to the war.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon