The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 17
The youth felt hunted by the enemy, dogged by a mass that would not let him rest in the midst of his exhaustion.
"But those other men seemed never to grow weary; they were fighting with their old speed. He had a wild hate for the relentless foe. Yesterday, when he had imagined the universe to be against him, he had hated it, little gods and big gods; to-day he hated the army of the foe with the same great hatred. He was not going to be badgered of his life, like a kitten chased by boys, he said. It was not well to drive men into final corners; at those moments they could all develop teeth and claws." Chapter 17, pg. 94
The youth leaned to Wilson and said as much to him. Wilson replied that if they kept being chased, they would be driven into the river. This statement enraged the youth. After a pause the battle moved directly in front of the regiment, which opened fire. As on the day before, the youth wished that his rifle was a wand of mass destruction. He imagined, however, that it was nothing but an impotent stick, and at this he flew into a hateful rage. He lost all sense of himself and did not know he was standing until he lost his balance and fell. He got up immediately; the only fleeting thought conscious to his cluttered brain was to wonder if he had been shot. The idea that he did not believe his army could win made him fight harder.
When the youth saw the enemy fall back, he ran forward like a dog attacking; he retreated sullenly when compelled. Once, the enemy retreated fully and the Union line ceased to fire; the youth went right on loading and shooting, blind in hatred. The others laughed at him and stared. The lieutenant praised the youth wholeheartedly for his bravery. The whole company looked at him with awe. Wilson came to him and asked if he was all right; the youth responded that he was fine.
"These incidents made the youth ponder. It was revealed to him that he had been a barbarian, a beast. He had fought like a pagan who defends his religion. Regarding it, he saw that it was fine, wild, and, in some ways, easy. He had been a tremendous figure, no doubt. By this struggle he had overcome obstacles which he had admitted to be mountains. They had fallen like paper peaks, and he was now what he called a hero. And he had not been aware of the process. He had slept, and, awakening, found himself a knight." Chapter 17, pg. 97
The youth soaked up the stares of his comrades. The lieutenant paced and fidgeted deliriously, and addressed all profound insights to the youth. The entire regiment began to believe itself the greatest in all the army, and they sang and laughed their own praises.