The important conflict in The Red Badge of Courage is Henry Flemings fear about how he will perform in his first battle. There are three people who expressed their ideas abou their fears before the first skirmish. They are Henry Fleming, Tom Wilson, and Jim Conklin.
Henry is worried about how he will do in this first battle. He isn’t sure if he will run or not, and he is scared that he might. He doesn’t want to look like a fool and run, but he is also scared of getting killed. Even though Henry never expressed his fears to Tom Wilson or Jim Conklin the audience could tell by the expressions on his face that he was scared. While he was writing a letter to his parents he writes about how he is going to fight for the first time and he wants to make the proud. After Henry runs away from the first battle he feels embarrassed because he didn’t have a wound. No one knew he ran so he still had his pride and after that his attitude changed and he began fighting with no fear.
Tom Wilson is another young sodier in the 304th regiment who is called the loud soldier. When he is in the tent talking to Henry and conklin he talks about how he will not run and take on the whole army on by himself. When he is in the first battle he tries to run but is caught by an officer and made to go back and fight. His attitude changed from being confident to being scard of fighting.
Jim conklin is also a soldier in the 304th regiment who talks with Henry and tom. When Conklin was talking to Henry and Wilson about how they felt about fighting their first battle, he says that he will run if he sees everyone else running. He is the only one to admit to everyone that he is scared about fighting. He is also the only one not to run away from the first battle even though other people were. When Henry sees him walking in the road after the war he has been shot and is hurt bad. Jim is afraid of lying in the road and being run ober by the artillery wagons. He decides to take off running across a field and up a hill and he dies there.
The only person Hernry admitted to be scared and running away to was Tom Wilson. After he ran the first time he felt embarressed and felt guilty. While fighting in a battle HErny took over the flag and charged the enemy. After the battle a sodier came and told everyone about the general talking about Henry and Tom being heroes. Henry walked away and Tom followed him, and they start talking. Henry finally admits to tom that he ran awsay, and tom tells him that he ran but he was caught by a sergeant and had to go back and fight. Henry and Tom both felt better after this knowing thay they weren’t the only ones to run away.
The remains of Paul Baumer’s company had moved behind the German front lines for a short rest at the beginning of the novel. After Behm became Paul’s first dead schoolmate, Paul viewed the older generation bitterly, particularly Kantorek, the teacher who convinced Paul and his classmates to join the military, feeling alone and betrayed in the world that they had left for him. Paul’s generation felt empty and isolated from the rest of the world due to the fact that they had never truly established any part of themselves in civilian life. At boot camp, Himmelstoss abused Paul and his friends, yet the harassment only brought them closer together and developed a strong spirit amongst them. Katczinsky, or Kat, was soon shown to be a master scavenger, being able to provide the group with food or virtually anything else; on this basis Paul and him grew quite close. Paul’s unit was assigned to lay barbed wire on the front line, and a sudden shelling resulted in the severe wounding of a recruit that Paul had comforted earlier. Paul and Kat again strongly questioned the War. After Paul’s company were returned to the huts behind the lines, Himmelstoss appeared and was insulted by some of the members of Paul’s unit, who were then only mildly punished. During a bloody battle, 120 of the men in Paul’s unit were killed. Paul was given leave and returned home only to find himself very distant from his family as a result of the war. He left in agony knowing that his youth was lost forever. Before returning to his unit, Paul spent a little while at a military camp where he viewed a Russian prisoner of war camp with severe starvation problems and again questioned the values that he had grown up with contrasted to the values while fighting the war. After Paul returned to his unit, they were sent to the front. During an attack, Paul killed a French soldier. After discovering that this soldier had a family, Paul was deeply shattered and vowed to prevent other such wars. Paul’s unit was assigned to guard a supply depot of an abandoned village, but he and Kropp were soon wounded when trying to escape from the village. Paul headed back to the front, only to engage in final battles where all of his friends were killed. The death of Kat was particularly hard for Paul because they were very close. One month before the Armistice, Paul was killed.
Ramarque’s purpose in writing this book was to display the hidden costs of war. The physical aspects of death and wounds did not begin to portray the mental anguish that the soldiers experienced during and after the war. He hoped to show the results of war on an entire generation; a loss of innocence in life which those who were once soldiers could never replace. Remarque’s message came across very clearly. There were constant tragedies which forced Paul or the other soldiers to question war and become detached from civilian life. After viewing the death of a close friend and a recruit whom he had comforted earlier, Paul went home finding that war had isolated him from his family and his childhood. With the return to his unit he again felt the presence of belonging. Soldiers had become his family. The mental anguish was again vividly displayed after Paul killed a French soldier; discovering that the soldier had a family, Paul slipped into a deep agony vowing to prevent such wars from again occurring. The depth of the emotions that soldiers experienced created a very believable example of the psychological impacts of war.
A strong bias against war in general was shown in this novel. The experience of “lostness” from society as a result of war seemed to be a point presented often and possibly an experience of Remarque. Numerous times Paul found his unit to be separated from the rest of the world. He found no belonging to civilization but instead a brotherhood amongst his comrades in the military. The constant questioning of war and its values was presented very frequently and in fact may have included a few of Remarque’s own questions of society and biases against the immorality and murder committed during war.
I have gained a great deal of insight into World War I from this novel. Previously, I understood the diplomacy and the military strategies involved with this war, but I have now also been exposed to the physical and foremost mental anguish that the soldiers on the front experienced. I had never thought about a soldier’s loss of identity when leaving behind all of the values, schooling, and family that once revolved around them. A new perspective of the battlefield was presented in which soldiers of opposite forces are in much of the same state: frightened human beings with family and loved ones at home, attempting to avoid death each day by whatever means possible; many very likely questioning the purpose of war as Paul constantly did. Many conflicts of values were presented constantly throughout the course of World War I. One of the strongest which I had not previously considered was the fact that as children homicide is certainly presented as a terrible act, yet on the front an unseen document legalizes mass murder. As a result of this novel, I can now clearly see how the mental anguish of soldiers on the front developed.
This novel was written very well. The plot was fast paced and the incredibly realistic war depiction’s kept my attention alone. Yet merged with the physical activity in this book was an extraordinary depth of the emotional impacts of the war upon the soldiers. I did not find the characters to be superficial in any way. Their physical actions and mental ideals coincided very closely. The emotional state of characters developed very genuinely throughout their endeavors; this realism forced me to look at the purpose of war more closely and examine its results on the militia. Foremost, I have gained a multitude of new perceptions, some of which make a great deal of sense, from the vividly portrayed physical results of war and the depth in which the dynamic emotions of the soldiers, particularly Paul, were presented. This book has simply given me new views of war. It was an incredible work to read.