The Red Badge of Courage

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Wounds Symbol Icon
For Henry, wounds are a "red badge of courage" to show off like a Purple Heart medal—the modern military award given to soldiers wounded in combat. Henry wants a wound to prove that he fought bravely and sacrificed himself. But wounds in Red Badge are not that simple. They reveal the flip side of Henry's romantic ideas: the grim reality of war wounds. For example, after he's wounded, Jim looks like his whole side had been "chewed by wolves." Wounds reveal the ironies of war, too: when Henry gets his own wound, it comes when a fellow Union soldier strikes him with a rifle butt to get Henry out of his way. Henry then must lie to his regiment about the wound's origin. Wounds also don't have to be physical. The tattered man reflects Henry's internal wounds—his guilt for running away and abandoning people.
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Wounds Symbol Timeline in The Red Badge of Courage

The timeline below shows where the symbol Wounds appears in The Red Badge of Courage. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Courage Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
Henry runs into a column of bloodied wounded soldiers returning from the front. One laughs and sings hysterically; another complains about their general;... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
Walking along, Henry is approached by a dirty, tattered man with two wounds in his head and arm. The tattered man tries to strike up a conversation about... (full context)
Chapter 9
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Henry tries to blend in with the wounded soldiers. But after the tattered man's questions, he feels like they can perceive his guilt.... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
...He stares into Jim's paste-like face and, when Jim's jacket falls away, sees Jim's awful wound. Agonized and enraged, Henry shakes his fist back at the battlefield. (full context)
Chapter 10
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
...describes Henry as looking pretty bad and warns him to take care of his own wound, one that might be inside, one that he might not even feel. The tattered man... (full context)
Chapter 12
Courage Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
Henry collapses in pain from the bleeding wound on his head, struggling even to crawl. He imagines somewhere safe he can collapse and... (full context)
Chapter 13
Courage Theme Icon
The corporal inspects Henry's wound and concludes that he's been grazed by a bullet, finding "a queer lump jest as... (full context)