27 February 2018
How did Jim, Wilson, and the Tattered Soldier Change Henry?
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane tells the story of Henry Fleming and how he evolves throughout the war. In the beginning of the novel, Henry was known as the "youth" of the group and was an ignorant, inexperienced boy, who had romanticized ideas of what war was like. During his progression throughout the war; Henry experiences bloodshed, combat and true conflict. His view on the world changes and he became aware of how miniscule he is compared to the vast universe. Jim Conklin, the "tattered" soldier, and Wilson all represent different types of benevolence that help to mold Henry's personality by the way they affect him.
Jim Conklin is an experienced, mature, and honest soldier whose role in Henry's life is a symbolic one. He leads to the most significant changes in Henry's evolution. As Jim approached his final moments, Henry cried out "I'll take care of yeh, Jim! I'll take care of yeh! I swear t' Gawd I will". He replied with a somber "I was allus a good friend t'yeh, wa'nt I, Henry"? (Crane 58-59) Jim's death causes Henry to realize the grim truth that the universe is indifferent to him and how insignificant his life really is.
Henry's shame and guilt comes to fruition when the tattered soldier annoyingly attaches himself to Henry. He is talkative and kind yet desperate for company. His wounds made him delirious which only fuels Henry's annoyance of him. He asks Henry where he is hit, and the tattered soldier repeatedly voices that the battle "Was a pretty good fight, wa'n't it". (55) Crane reveals that, "Because of the tattered soldier's question he ...