The Red Badge of Courage

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.

Wounds Quotes in The Red Badge of Courage

The The Red Badge of Courage quotes below all refer to the symbol of Wounds. 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 9 Quotes
At times he regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way. He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.
Related Characters: Henry Fleming (the youth)
Related Symbols: Wounds
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes
The simple questions of the tattered man had been knife thrusts to him. They asserted a society that probes pitilessly at secrets until all is apparent. ... [H]is crime ... was sure to be brought plain by one of those arrows which cloud the air and are constantly pricking, discovering, proclaiming those things which are willed to be forever hidden.
Related Characters: Henry Fleming (the youth), Tattered man
Related Symbols: Wounds, The Tattered Man
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes
The fight was lost. The dragons were coming with invincible strides. The army, helpless in the matted thickets and blinded by the overhanging night, was going to be swallowed. War, the red animal, war, the blood swollen god, would have bloated fill.
Related Characters: Henry Fleming (the youth)
Related Symbols: Wounds
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes
"Yeh've been grazed by a ball. It's raised a queer lump jest as if some feller had lammed yeh on th' head with a club."
Related Characters: Henry Fleming (the youth)
Related Symbols: Wounds
Page Number: 80
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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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)