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Kelley
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PostSubject: Discussion Questions   Mon May 28, 2007 7:55 am

1. No passage of The Red Badge of Courage has been subject to as much interpretive debate as the novel’s ending. Some critics have argued that the book ends with Henry’s psychological maturation, while others have said that Henry remains as vain and deluded at the end of the book as he is at the beginning. Which is the case? Has Henry really gained perspective, or is he still the same unfailingly self-centered boy?

2. One of the most important themes of the novel is that nature is indifferent to human life. How does the book convey this theme? What are some of its most important symbols? What does it mean for the universe to be “indifferent?”

3. An ongoing critical debate exists as to how Stephen Crane should be classified. Some critics argue that he is a naturalist, some that he is a symbolist, and others that he is an impressionist. What is the difference between these different movements, and to which, if any, does Crane belong?

4. Compare and contrast Henry, Wilson, and Jim. What does each character seem to represent? How does Crane’s focus on the inner workings of Henry’s mind give the reader a picture of Henry different from that of any other character?

5. Thinking about Crane’s portrayal of the Civil War as a large historical phenomenon, how does Crane depict the different armies? What differences, if any, does he draw between them? What is his approach to the moral element of the struggle, and how does it differ from the usual approach to Civil War fiction?

6. Consider Henry’s flashback to his conversation with his mother in Chapter I. What is his mother’s attitude about his enlisting in the first place? How does her advice foreshadow the main themes of the novel?

7. In the author’s point of view, is it wrong for Henry to run from the battle? Is it wrong for him to abandon the tattered soldier? More broadly, does The Red Badge of Courage have a moral center, or does it deny that moral categories such as “right” and “wrong” can exist in an indifferent universe?
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Kelley
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion Questions   Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:43 pm

1. No passage of The Red Badge of Courage has been subject to as much interpretive debate as the novel’s ending. Some critics have argued that the book ends with Henry’s psychological maturation, while others have said that Henry remains as vain and deluded at the end of the book as he is at the beginning. Which is the case? Has Henry really gained perspective, or is he still the same unfailingly self-centered boy?

I think it is both. Henry has matured in many ways. He has a new understanding of his insignificance in the world and in war. He has contemplated the reason for war. In the end he is still a very young man. He has indeed experienced war, but he has yet to experience many other aspects of life.

2. One of the most important themes of the novel is that nature is indifferent to human life. How does the book convey this theme? What are some of its most important symbols? What does it mean for the universe to be “indifferent?”

One of the most poignant examples to me was the soldier Henry found dead at the beginning of the book. The ants are crawling over his body and the natural decay has begun. Nature doesn't care how great the man was in his life, how strong, how courageous. Life goes on.

3. An ongoing critical debate exists as to how Stephen Crane should be classified. Some critics argue that he is a naturalist, some that he is a symbolist, and others that he is an impressionist. What is the difference between these different movements, and to which, if any, does Crane belong?

4. Compare and contrast Henry, Wilson, and Jim. What does each character seem to represent? How does Crane’s focus on the inner workings of Henry’s mind give the reader a picture of Henry different from that of any other character?

5. Thinking about Crane’s portrayal of the Civil War as a large historical phenomenon, how does Crane depict the different armies? What differences, if any, does he draw between them? What is his approach to the moral element of the struggle, and how does it differ from the usual approach to Civil War fiction?

Crane doesn't focus on the moral issues of the war, the rightness of either side, or the valor of being a soldier. Instead, Crane takes us through the mental battle each individual must face. We feel the emotions and the rawness of the war. It is gruesome and tiring, not glamorous and vague.

6. Consider Henry’s flashback to his conversation with his mother in Chapter I. What is his mother’s attitude about his enlisting in the first place? How does her advice foreshadow the main themes of the novel?

Henry's mother understood many things about war, life, and politics, that Henry wasn't ready to see when he left. Blinded by idealism and excitement Henry didn't realize his mother was trying to teach him the lesssons he would so difficultly learn in the field.


7. In the author’s point of view, is it wrong for Henry to run from the battle? Is it wrong for him to abandon the tattered soldier? More broadly, does The Red Badge of Courage have a moral center, or does it deny that moral categories such as “right” and “wrong” can exist in an indifferent universe?

I believe that the author allows the characters to determine their own right and wrong. Henry ultimately decides that it was wrong to run, but much more wrong to have left the tattered soldier in the field. I believe that the novel denies that a black and white 'right' and 'wrong' can exist in an indifferent universe, but that instead a fluid spectrum of morality exists with in each one of us.
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Minimoosey

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PostSubject: Re: Discussion Questions   Wed Jun 13, 2007 12:58 am

Henry has matured in many ways. I think that this book has brought across his evolving as a character and a young man.

Opinions are like ideas, everyone has one. I think that over analyzing this book could easily be done, but I will leave it to someone else and read one of my other books from the secret store in Hotchkiss.
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Karen

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PostSubject: Re: Discussion Questions   Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:10 pm

No passage of The Red Badge of Courage has been subject to as much interpretive debate as the novel’s ending. Some critics have argued that the book ends with Henry’s psychological maturation, while others have said that Henry remains as vain and deluded at the end of the book as he is at the beginning. Which is the case? Has Henry really gained perspective, or is he still the same unfailingly self-centered boy?

I think you made good arguements for both, Brienne. There will doubtless be other days when we questions his ability and the mening of the war bu has has been humbled and will make more informed descisions when in battle.
2. One of the most important themes of the novel is that nature is indifferent to human life. How does the book convey this theme? What are some of its most important symbols? What does it mean for the universe to be “indifferent?”

I liked the line where henry was surprised that everything was the same as it was, in terms of the sky being just as blue and the fields just as greeen even after all of the chaos!
3. An ongoing critical debate exists as to how Stephen Crane should be classified. Some critics argue that he is a naturalist, some that he is a symbolist, and others that he is an impressionist. What is the difference between these different movements, and to which, if any, does Crane belong?
I would classify him as a a symoblist but as marti said there can be many interpretations

4. Compare and contrast Henry, Wilson, and Jim. What does each character seem to represent? How does Crane’s focus on the inner workings of Henry’s mind give the reader a picture of Henry different from that of any other character?
I think and maybe it is because i read it somewhere, that Henry is supposed to embody 'every man'

5. Thinking about Crane’s portrayal of the Civil War as a large historical phenomenon, how does Crane depict the different armies? What differences, if any, does he draw between them? What is his approach to the moral element of the struggle, and how does it differ from the usual approach to Civil War fiction?
One thing I felt was that there was never any strong sense of which side was actually winning.

6. Consider Henry’s flashback to his conversation with his mother in Chapter I. What is his mother’s attitude about his enlisting in the first place? How does her advice foreshadow the main themes of the novel?

Like most mothers, henrys feared for his ife and knew his idea's were fantasticl and unrelistic. I think she knew too that she culd not stop him once his mind was made up. I think whe he remembered her, he realized just how wonderful his home and home life had been and that he had taken it all for granted.

7. In the author’s point of view, is it wrong for Henry to run from the battle? Is it wrong for him to abandon the tattered soldier? More broadly, does The Red Badge of Courage have a moral center, or does it deny that moral categories such as “right” and “wrong” can exist in an indifferent universe?

I think the author tried to portray that many of the men in the regiment struggled with whether it was right or wrong to run in battle and he also tried to justify it at times, too, just like Henry did. i was glad that henry ultimately felt leaving that leaving the tattered man was beyond the pale and by reading that, I felt he would be more compassionate to his comrades in the future. that was certinly more 'blak and white' than deciding when it is ok to run.


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Kelley
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion Questions   Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:58 pm

I really enjoyed reading your opions here Karen!
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