The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Characters

Henry Fleming (the youth)

Henry Fleming is a young private who volunteered for the infantry against his mother's wishes. Having "dreamed of battles all his life," Henry has romantic notions of war influenced by Greek classics such as… (read full character analysis)

Wilson (the loud young soldier, the youth's friend)

Wilson is a new volunteer and Henry's closest friend in the regiment. He begins as a brash and confident soldier, but by the start of the first battle Wilson is deeply afraid that he'll… (read full character analysis)

Jim Conklin ("the tall soldier")

Another friend of Henry's in the regiment, Jim offers Henry a pragmatic viewpoint on courage at the beginning of the story: run when others run, fight like mad when they fight. He also embodies the… (read full character analysis)

Tattered man

A nameless, dirty, and twice-shot soldier who meets Henry in the procession of the wounded. By asking Henry about the fighting and Henry's non-existent wounds, the tattered man works like Henry's external conscience. Henry thinks… (read full character analysis)

Henry's mother

Appearing only in an early flashback, Henry's mother objects when he volunteers for the army. Henry's mother does not share her son's glorified visions of war. Instead, she advises him to avoid shameful acts… (read full character analysis)
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Insulting officer

An anonymous officer who says of Henry's regiment that "they fight like a lot 'a mule drivers." Having just won their fight, Henry feels otherwise. These two difference shows how the meaning of battles… (read full character analysis)

Cheerful soldier

An anonymous soldier who shows up to guide Henry after he is slammed on the head by a rifle butt, and, dazed, is searching for safety. The cheerful soldier embodies the selflessness and altruism of… (read full character analysis)

Lieutenant

A mid-level commander in Henry's regiment named Hasbrouck. He is described as fiery with an endless supply of foul language. The lieutenant represents the qualities of selfless valor and leadership that Henry and Wilson(read full character analysis)

Dead soldier

An anonymous, deceased Union soldier whose decomposing body Henry finds in the woods. The dead, decomposing body's position in a "chapel" of trees implies a profound uncertainty about the promises of religion; could this body… (read full character analysis)