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Chapter 2 Notes from The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 2

The next morning revealed that the Tall Soldier had been mistaken - the army was not on the move. Men on both sides of the previous day's argument scoffed at him. For the youth this was irritating, for it had put the question of battle in the forefront of his mind. After days of deliberation, he decided the only way to know whether he would run would be to go into battle and watch himself to see what he would do. He began to hypothetically compare himself to his peers, and decided that he would like to have had another soldier whom he knew to think the way he did. Occasionally he tried to lure some other man into admitting his fears to him, but he always failed, and feared to declare his thoughts for fear of ridicule. Depending on the moment, he either thought his comrades were heroes innately superior to himself, or quaking cowards who wondered like himself even while they waxed on about the glory of battle. Above all, he thought the generals of the army painfully slow and inconsiderate to leave him in such mental agony.

One morning, however, the regiment was put on the move. They stood for a long time, and the youth watched a colonel on his enormous horse. A horseman drew up and talked to the colonel. The youth thought it must have concerned marching orders, but the horseman shouted something about cigars over his shoulder and the youth wondered at their inanity. Finally the regiment started off, the men all the while mumbling rumors. The youth could see the men stretched out in a line as far as he could see. As they marched, one man, Bill Smithers, fell and tried to retrieve his rifle, but another man stepped on his hand and injured his fingers; his comrades laughed. The youth took no part in the conversation, preferring to keep to himself and his internal debate. He expected to hear firing from in front of him, but he did not. The glee of the veteran regiments infected the youth's corps, to his dismay, and the youth's untried comrades spoke of victory as though they knew. It seemed as if the army had forgotten their true mission.

Topic Tracking: Peer Pressure/Morale 3

A fat soldier tried to steal a horse from a farmhouse as they passed by, but a young girl came out and the two had a tug-of-war over the horse. The men in the ranks loudly supported the girl's cause and shouted jeers at the soldier. The girl won the struggle and the men cheered. That night the regiments broke up and made camp; still the youth kept to himself. The night made him feel bouts of self-pity.

"He wished, without reserve, that he was at home again making the endless rounds from the house to the barn, from the barn to the fields, from the fields to the barn, from the barn to the house. He remembered he had often cursed the brindle cow and her mates, and had sometimes flung milking stools. But, from his present point of view, there was a halo of happiness about each of their heads, and he would have sacrificed all the brass buttons on the continent to have been enabled to return to them. He told himself that he was not formed for a soldier. And he mused seriously upon the radical differences between himself and the men who were dodging implike around the fires." Chapter 2, pg. 18

Topic Tracking: Maturation 2

As the youth, Henry, thought, he noticed the Loud Soldier, Wilson. Wilson asked what was wrong. Henry replied that nothing was wrong; Wilson began to speak loudly and positively about the upcoming battle. During the conversation, Henry asked Wilson if he thought he would end up running from battle. Wilson assured him that he wouldn't dream of such a thing, but strained to be modest. Henry responded sarcastically and Wilson stormed off. Henry was convinced again that he was the only one who was afraid.

Topic Tracking: Fear of Battle 2

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