Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage (1896) is a short novel (or a long short story) by Stephen Crane about the meaning of courage, as it is discovered by Henry Fleming, a young recruit in the Civil War. It is often considered one of the best American war stories ever written, even though the author was born after the events and never saw battle himself. His purpose in writing the book was to explore courage in the face of the most daunting trial imaginable: battle. The title itself refers to a wound that the protagonist suffered from one of the soldiers in his own platoon.

Fleming survives the war to return home. He is not gravely wounded, but his life is transformed by the experience and especially by his insight into the meaning of true courage as a momentary burst of selflessness.