The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

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The Red Badge of Courage Activities and Lesson Plan

Stephen Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage without ever having witnessed combat. However, his use of vivid imagery, color motifs, and his ability to describe the emotional highs and lows of an insecure soldier have earned the novel many accolades. While the novel only takes place over the course of a few days, it is a story of a lifetime for a young private named Henry Fleming. The story of Henry Fleming and his journey from a young fearful boy to a bold young soldier highlights important themes that many students will encounter in their own lives, including overcoming fear, a soldier’s duty and honor, defining manhood, and finding redemption.

Student Activities for The Red Badge of Courage Include:

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One reason why Crane’s writing style is so successful is because it incorporates many elements of the Realism literary movement. Realism is defined as depicting the characteristics of everyday life in their truest form. Realism doesn’t concern itself with supernatural elements like its Gothic predecessor, nor does it try to get too exotic or fancy in its descriptions. It is often referred to as a “faithful representation of reality”. Crane utilizes Realism in his depiction of Henry Fleming’s thoughts and in his journey from coward to hero. Some important characteristics of Realism include:

The Battle of Chancellorsville

While the 304th New York Regiment is fictional, it was thought to be inspired by the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which Stephen Crane utilized to prepare for his novel. The battle that Henry Fleming takes part in is thought to be based off of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia in 1863. Students can find more information on the battle (and perhaps English and History classes can team up for this, too!) at the following resources:

Essential Questions for The Red Badge of Courage

  1. When can fear become overwhelming?
  2. What is courage? Why is it important?
  3. What are some reasons why people choose to enlist and fight in a war?
  4. Should desertion be considered a crime? Why or why not?
  5. What qualities make a good soldier? A bad soldier?
  6. What defines “manhood”?
  7. Is it possible to find redemption for our mistakes?

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•   (English) The Red Badge of Courage   •   (Español) El Emblema Rojo del Coraje   •   (Français) L'insigne Rouge du Courage   •   (Deutsch) Das Rote Abzeichen des Mutes   •   (Italiana) Il Distintivo Rosso del Coraggio   •   (Nederlands) Het Rode Badge van Moed   •   (Português) O Emblema Vermelho da Coragem   •   (עברית) הטלאי האדום של האומץ   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) شارة الحمراء للشجاعة   •   (हिन्दी) साहस का लाल बैज   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Красный Знак Мужества   •   (Dansk) Det Røde Badge af mod   •   (Svenska) Röda Märket av mod   •   (Suomi) Punainen Kunniamerkki   •   (Norsk) Det Røde Merket av mod   •   (Türkçe) Cesaretin Kırmızı Rozeti   •   (Polski) Czerwona Odznaka Odwagi   •   (Româna) Insigna Roșie a Curajului   •   (Ceština) Červený Odznak Odvahy   •   (Slovenský) Červený Odznak Odvahy   •   (Magyar) A Red Badge of Courage   •   (Hrvatski) Crvena Značka Hrabrosti   •   (български) Червеният Знак на Смелостта   •   (Lietuvos) Raudonasis Ženkliukas Drąsos   •   (Slovenščina) Red Badge of Courage   •   (Latvijas) Red Badge of Courage   •   (eesti) Punane Märk Courage