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Confidence Essay, Research Paper
Over time peoples feelings about themselves and others change. They may feel strong and
indestructible one minute than something could change the way they feel. A certain event could
change ones self confidence. People become different when they are exposed to a certain
situation. They can also take a 180 degree turnaround and become a totally new person. In
Stephen Cranes The Red Badge of Courage the main character changes from a coward in the
beginning to a stronger courageous character at the end of the novel.
Henry Fleming is a young naive boy. He is not sure what to expect when he goes to war.
He has a conversation with the other soldiers in his regiment. They think that some of the soldiers
will run during a battle. Henry has a strange feeling that he may be the one to run when the time
comes. He decides to bring up the topic during a conversation with another soldier by saying
Think any of the boys will run? . Another soldier responds Oh there may be a few of em, but
there s them kind in every regiment, specially when they first goes under fire (17). Henry is
afraid now after hearing what the soldier had to say. Henry is confused about war. One critic
notes about Henry s feelings: Henry felt proud and daring when he left home to go to war, but
now he wonders how he will do when confronted with the reality of battle (Napierkowski 255).
Henrys feelings about war are false. He has never been exposed to war before but now he will
and is not really sure what to expect.
When Henry first goes to battle he is relieved when the rebels retreat. But when they turn
back and start firing Henry loses his cool. He panics. He yelled with fright and swung about…he
was like a proverbial chicken. He lost the direction of safety (52). Henry has lost all sense of
direction and is very scared. He has no idea of where to run so he follows everyone else who ran.
Henry is in a state of delirium. He cannot go back to his regiment because they will not accept him
back into the group. They will turn their backs on him just like he turned his back on them.
Finally when Henry stops running he hears a general speaking of the win that Henry s
regiment just captured. Henry is completely shocked The youth cringed when he found out his
regiment won the battle. He could hear the men celebrating. He was amazed and angry. He felt
that he had been wronged (56). Henry feels ashamed that he ran from the battle. One critic
describes Henry s feelings: On the one hand he feels like a criminal for running away and on the
other he feels as though he has been cheated by fate of his glorious career as a brave soldier
(Napierkowski 256).Henry feels guilty for leaving the regiment. He feels very ashamed and
regrets running from the battle.
After things settle down Henry feels humiliated. He roams around the different camps.
Henry does not have any self confidence anymore. Again he thought that he wished he was
dead. He believed that he envied a corpse. (83). Henry has nothing to do. He wishes that he
never ran in the first place. Something has to happen that will change Henry s future.
Finally something happens. Henry receives his red badge of courage , he adroitly and
fiercely swung his rifle. It crushed upon the youths head. (87). Henry is struck in the head by
another soldier. This is the action that changes Henry s future. Napierkowski notes After he
receives his red badge of courage Henry begins to be a stronger person and his shame
disappears. (257). Henry now has an excuse to give to his regiment. He can tell them that he
was wounded in battle. They will take him back.
After being hit on the head Henry is carried back to his regiment. a cheery young soldier
leads Henry back to his camp. The regiment accepts Henry and they nuture him so he will be
able to fight again. Henry feels relieved. Henry feels his self pride is totally restored. he had
performed his mistakes in the dark so he feels he is still a man. (105) Henry is still in pain
because he got hit on the head but lets out a great sigh of relief. Napierkowski noticed this too
and wrote He is greatly relieved not to be exposed as a deserter and enters into the battle with a
sincere desire to be brave. (256). Napierkowski hit the nail right on the head. This is when
Henry realizes that he is getting a second chance at becoming a war hero.
Henry s character has changed when he goes back to the battle. He is a stronger
courageous soldier. Henry fights strongly and feels better about himself after the first battle back.
These incidents made the youth ponder. It was revealed to him that he had been a barbarian, a
beast. He had fought like a pagan who defends his religion… he had been a tremendous
figure. (118) Henry finally fought valiantly. He has gotten over his fear of battle.
Henry shows many signs of pride and courage. During a battle the flag bearer is wounded
and drops the flag. Henry s decides to take action With this terrible grin of resolutions he
hugged his precious flag to him and was stumbling and staggering in his design to go the way that
led to safety for it. (153). Henry shows patriotism when he carries the American flag. He has no
fear of dying in the war and grabs the flag. He is praised by his officers because what he did was
great. One critic notices Henry saves the flag and pushes his boys back to battle and is praised
by the officers. He is seen as a valiant soldier. (Napierkowski 256). Henry feels very proud of
himself. He has accomplished a lot up to this point.
Henry Fleming was a really weak character at the beginning of the novel. He showed
many signs of fear and was really confused as to what the war would bring. When he ran at the
beginning he was in a panic. He could not tell what direction he was going in. At the end of the
novel Henry had completely changed. He knew exactly what to expect when he was fighting.
Henry wanted to be a war hero like the Greek legends and did not realize what it would take to be
one. He now realizes that there can never be such a thing as a Greek warrior hero. It takes a lot
of courage and bravery to overpower the fear that is encountered during battle. Even the grown
men were afraid of being defeated by the rebels. Henry has a new view of battle. He saw that it
was not always glorified. People make the war seem like its a good thing but really its not. He
was changed by the things he saw while he was roaming around after he ran like a coward.
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