Chapter 14 Notes from The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 14

The youth awoke at dawn and felt as if he had been asleep for a thousand years. Already he could hear fighting in the distance. He started up and cried out when he saw the forms of sleeping men around him in strange postures; he believed himself to be in the house of the dead, and that all those sleeping men were corpses that would start up and make a terrible row. He recovered himself and realized that his vision was not reality but prophecy. He noticed the Loud Soldier already awake and tending to the fire.

The Loud Soldier asked the youth how he felt; he replied that he felt bad - his head had swollen and felt like a melon. The Loud Soldier helped him with the bandage until the youth exploded at him in pain. The Loud Soldier suggested they get some breakfast; he gave the youth coffee and hurriedly roasted meat. The youth suddenly realized a profound change in his comrade since their first days wallowing in camp. He saw that his temper was no longer short; he was in reality no longer the Loud Soldier he once was. He showed a quiet confidence in all his actions.

"The youth reflected. He had been used to regarding his comrade as a blatant child with an audacity grown from his inexperience, thoughtless, headstrong, jealous, and filled with tinsel courage. A swaggering babe accustomed to strut in his own dooryard. The youth wondered where had been born these new eyes; when his comrade had made the great discovery that there were many men who would refuse to be subjected by him. Apparently, the other had now climbed a peak of wisdom from which he could perceive himself as a very wee thing. And the youth saw that ever after it would be easier to live in his friend's neighborhood." Chapter 14, pg. 83

Topic Tracking: Maturation 7

As they ate, the two discussed the day's upcoming battle. Wilson asked the youth if he thought they'd fight well. The youth replied that two days before Wilson would have gone running headlong into the battle without question as to the army's chances. Wilson was taken aback, but then agreed, saying that "in those days" he had been a fool - he spoke as if "those days" were years ago. In the course of the discussion, the youth remembered that Jim Conklin was dead; he told Wilson so. Wilson started, then held a somber moment for the man.

Topic Tracking: Fear of Battle 8

At a nearby fire, two soldiers were teasing a large man, causing him to spill coffee. The three postured as if about to fight. Wilson went over to them and pacified the situation calmly like a true diplomat. In a few minutes, the three antagonists were talking like friends again. Wilson walked back to the youth, telling him amusedly that one of the men had challenged him to a fight after the battle that day. The youth marveled at how Wilson had changed. After a time, Wilson said that the regiment had lost over half its men the day before and he had thought them dead, but that they kept coming back after fighting with other regiments, as the youth had. The youth shrugged the remark off hurriedly and without response.

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