While viewing the movie The Red Badge of Courage

            While viewing the movie The Red Badge of Courage and after reading the book, The Last Full Measure written by Jeff Shaara I noticed both were on the subject of the Civil War.  The Red Badge of Courage was about the war as seen through the eyes of a young solder and The Last Full Measure was on the view of really three key players, gentlemen in command, of the Civil War.  Badge was depicted in a very simplistic but very detailed view of Henry Fleming a young man whose fever to fight was challenged when he actually got the chance.  It details a young man coming of age during the battle of the Civil War.  Measure is more of a complicated novel that shows how the war was viewed through battles fought by General Robert E - While viewing the movie The Red Badge of Courage introduction. Lee, General Ulysses S. Grant and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  These men were in the upper level ranks in the Civil War, where as Badge was shown in the eyes of a young man who was just your average run of the mill kid.

            Henry Fleming, sometimes known as Crane in his younger days, was a young Northerner that feels an intense duty to enlist and fight in the Civil War and joins the Union army.  It showed how during the first battle the young man was to fight he fought but after the second attack he ran.  Before the battle, he often wondered if he would be able to stand and fight or whether he could not.  His fears got the best of him though seeing how others were dying, wounded and running themselves for their lives.  All of this made him run too.  After stopping from exhaustion he began to question his own courage.  He hears and sees the battle from a distance and wonders if he will be known as a coward or courageous.  He ponders from hearing of his units win if he should not have stayed and fought beginning the self hatred he has for his cowardness.

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            At one point he does make the decision to return to his unit and during his search he comes across many solders wounded, dead and even insane.  He even witnesses his own friend; Jim Conklins from the regiment die a horrible death.  After meeting these men on his travels to find his unit he begins to want to prove he is worthy of courage and wants to have a wound to prove this.  This is where the title comes into play; these types of wounds were considered a “red badge of courage” proof of courage in battle.  His wish is granted in a scuffle with another and he gets a cut that he later brags as a “red badge of courage”.  He eventually does go on to prove himself worthy of courage at the end of the story.

            In Shaara’s book it chronicles several battles that were fought by Lee, Grant and Chamberlain, men that were in command of the men and boys like in The Red Badge of Courage.  Like in the movie it follows how men such as General Lee questioning if he will be able to send his ill equipped troops to fight against the better equipped troops of the North.  Both the movie and the novel seemed to focus on individual moral thinking.  I enjoyed Shaara’s book showing how Southern strategy and insight helped the south during this battle they eventually lost and in understanding the turning point in the war when Grant had been given his command.  This book seemed to give more of a broader understanding of the Civil war with interjecting stories such as Lincoln’s assassination or even the protection of the earthen works in Richmond and Petersburg Virginia.  It did give a viewpoint from both the upper level commanders and the solders, but the main focus was the commanders in charge.

            Both book and movie gave the reader and movie watcher a good sense of how it was like during the Civil War and a realistic look at moral decisions many had to face in battle.  With Henry it was if he should stay and fight with the possibility of death or should he run and hide to insure survival and live.  With Shaara’s novel decisions like Lee’s and Grants were focused mainly on winning and losing battles, with the solders well being and surviving only second to winning.  The badge had a finish fit for movies, with Henry gaining his well sought after courage.  The book ending the author gave descriptions on what happened afterwards with many of the key players in his book, which I found very useful in understanding the Civil War in its context.  The movie was told in first person where as the book was more in the second person in a broader sense, but with each chapter or section of the book focusing on individual viewpoints.

            I had read the novel The Red Badge of Courage in high school and watched the movie for this assignment, so I think that certain things should be known before really giving a good contrast and comparison of the movie and the book assigned.  In the book by Stephen Crane it was written during the period of the Civil War.  It was first run as a mini series story in a newspaper after the Civil War.  The book was very descriptive in nature and I felt the movie lacked some of the affects the book gave the reader.  This to me makes the book by James Shaara, The Last Full Measure, something that we could only imagine, but I am not going to say it is incorrect.  Shaara’s novel is very historically correct and is very well written and researched.  Both books but into perspective for me just how the Civil War must have been and how bloody the fight really has helped me to fully understand the consequences and triumphs of a period in American history that changed the whole nation and touch every American in one way or another.

            I enjoyed both and felt both were historically accurate maybe giving more weight of value to The Red Badge of Courage since it was written by someone living through the actual time and I know that Shaara’s book does do historically written novel’s justice, but I can’t help but keep in mind that he is only able to give his reader an ideal of what these men were actually thinking and feeling through historical documents; Crane was there.  I recommend both to general audiences as well as to anyone studying history of the Civil War.  They really put into perspective just what it was like in the minds of individuals during the darkest hours during the Civil War.

Work Cited:

Shaara, Jeffery M. The Last Full Measure.  New York: N. Y.: The Ballantine Publishing             Group, 1998,

The Red Badge of Courage.  Screenplay by John Huston.  Dir. John Huston.  Prod.        Gottfired Rinehart.  Perf. Audie Murphy.  DVD. Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 2003.

 

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