The Red Badge of Courage

Flags Symbol Icon
By definition, flags are symbols of something else, such as a state or country. In Red Badge, battle flags symbolize the opposing armies. More importantly, they represent a soldier's need to believe in his army and in the war itself. The flag transcends individual concerns and represents the soldiers as a collective force. The political symbolism of Civil War flags is mostly absent from Red Badge. Instead, they are compared to beautiful colorful birds. Flags in Red Badge are symbols about symbols, about the abstract causes for which soldiers put their lives on the line. When he takes over as flag-bearer, Henry is safeguarding all of the symbols that hold his world together.

Flags Quotes in The Red Badge of Courage

The The Red Badge of Courage quotes below all refer to the symbol of Flags. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Courage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Red Badge of Courage published in 2005.
Chapter 19 Quotes
Within him, as he hurled himself forward, was born a love, a despairing fondness for this flag which was near him. It was a creation of beauty and invulnerability. It was a goddess, radiant, that bended its form with an imperious gesture to him. It was a woman, red and white, hating and loving, that called him with the voice of his hopes. Because no harm could come to it he endowed it with power.
Related Characters: Henry Fleming (the youth)
Related Symbols: Flags
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes
The youth's friend went over the obstruction in a tumbling heap and sprang at the flag as a panther at prey. He pulled at it and, wrenching it free, swung up its red brilliancy with a mad cry of exultation even as the color bearer, gasping, lurched over in a final throe and, stiffening convulsively, turned his dead face to the ground.
Related Characters: Henry Fleming (the youth), Wilson (the loud young soldier, the youth's friend)
Related Symbols: Corpses, Wounds, Flags
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Flags Symbol Timeline in The Red Badge of Courage

The timeline below shows where the symbol Flags appears in The Red Badge of Courage. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
In the distant smoke, Henry sees a Union battle flag fall over. Suddenly, a mob of blue soldiers retreats through the woods, running away from... (full context)
Chapter 5
Nature Theme Icon
...scene around him. A battery of artillery guns is lobbing shells overhead. The Union battle flag flies again over distant troops. And to Henry's astonishment, the sun shines brightly in the... (full context)
Chapter 19
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...time. The lieutenant, Henry, and Wilson all scream at the men to push on. Their flag obediently gets moving again and the men follow. Running nearby, Henry feels a deep love... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
...sees the color sergeant get shot and stumble. He and Wilson each lunge for the flag and they tug it away from the corpse's firm grasp. (full context)
Chapter 20
Courage Theme Icon
Henry and Wilson scuffle to carry the flag, each wanting to put himself at greater risk. Henry pushes Wilson off roughly. (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
...and desperate fight breaks out at close range. Henry sits on the ground with the flag, consoled only that his regiment will go down fighting. (full context)
Chapter 22
The War Machine Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
...again into the field. Henry stands in the middle of the new fighting with the flag still over him. (full context)
Chapter 23
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
...reckless and unselfish. Henry runs in front of the men of his regiment, carrying the flag and shrieking encouragements. (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
...run away. However, a handful of determined enemy soldiers remain behind the fence with their flag waving above them. (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
Noise and Silence Theme Icon
The Living and the Dead Theme Icon
...regiment stops and fires a devastating volley at close range. Henry sees that the enemy's flag bearer is mortally wounded. Henry wants that flag for himself as a prize. But Wilson... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
The War Machine Theme Icon
Youth and Manhood Theme Icon
...talks of battles and outcomes, yearning for news. Settling down behind the fence with their flags, Henry and Wilson congratulate each other. (full context)