The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After a quick nap, Henry wakes and reflects with delight that the test of his courage is over. He feels great about himself. He shakes hands with other soldiers. Everyone is proud.
Henry has to interpret his courage after the fact. During battle, he had no sense of it. His judgment is premature, indicating his inexperience.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
But the celebration quickly ends when the soldiers realize the enemy is charging again. Preparing to fight again, the soldiers now feel dejected, like slaves forced to fight by their masters. Everyone complains about the lack of reinforcements.
The flip side to being a laborer is being a slave. The soldiers' changes with their mood—now that they're scared, they feel victimized again.
Themes
The War Machine Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
Henry feels intimidated by the persistence of the enemy. Who are these guys, anyway? Didn't they just get beaten? Henry's confidence drains away, and he begins to feel nervous and jittery.
Henry has little combat experience, so he doesn't know how to deal with war's relentlessness. He's also angry since his sense of victory will now be erased.
Themes
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
As the fighting begins, a soldier near Henry jumps up and runs away howling. Soon other soldiers drop their guns and flee. Feeling left behind and terrified, Henry turns and runs with no sense of direction. With his back to the fighting, Henry is more scared than ever, and he races to stay ahead of the retreating pack.
Compare this to Jim's answer in Chapter 1 about following the lead of others. When each man feels isolated and afraid, the soldiers' sense of fraternity disintegrates into a mob with every man out for himself.
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
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Henry runs past a battery of artillery gunners and sees reinforcements coming. He feels these soldiers, now in the path of the enemy, are either wondrous men or total idiots. His pace slows as he gets further behind the lines of reinforcement. He slinks past a general on horseback and, as he does so, overhears that Henry's regiment held off the charge.
Henry's perspective on his own courage depends entirely on the events of the battle. When he thought everyone ran, he felt smart for running. When he learns that other soldiers stayed behind and were victorious, he feels ashamed. .
Themes
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon