Mistakes In Tim O Brien's The Red Badge Of Courage

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Throughout The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, Henry Fleming makes mistakes and has to relearn what he is capable of. His transgressions include running from a battle, abandoning a dying man, and lying to his comrades. Tim O’Brien defines what a true war story is in his book The Things They Carried, and states that, “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior…” Although the youth makes many mistakes throughout The Red Badge of Courage, and many immoral acts are portrayed, it is not a true war story according to Tim O’Brien’s definition. To begin with, The Red Badge of Courage does not show an “absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil,” because throughout the novel, good deeds are shown, and Henry finds role models that are ideals of virtue in war. For example, the loud soldier takes care of Henry after Henry has supposedly been shot in the head, and he lets the youth use his bed and blankets for the night. According to O’Brien, that would not be done in a war story, because in them there is no virtue, there is only an uncompromisable allegiance to evil. No story with that allegiance to evil in it would show kindness, or men taking care of one another. Despite Henry giving the reader several examples of slipping…show more content…
you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie,” while in Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, Henry feels at the end that “He had rid himself of the red sickness of battle,” (p. 155) illustrating how some rectitude has been made. To O’Brien, no rectitude can be made for a story to be a true war story, and therefore, The Red Badge of Courage is not a war
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