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Free Study Guide-The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane-Online Summary
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CHAPTER 14

Summary

Henry wakes and sees men lying around him. His disordered mind immediately thinks he is in a death place, and the sleeping bodies are corpses. He then hears the crackling fire and the call of the bugle, sounds that bring back the reality of his present state of affairs.

Wilson tends to his bandages while Henry swears at him in pain. Wilson soothes him and watches over him with tenderness and care. The Youth notes the remarkable change in Wilson and says he is now reliable in a fine way. The Youth teases Wilson about his earlier boast that he would be able to beat the enemy army alone. Wilson is amazed that he has spoken so foolishly. The two of them then talk about the war and the chance of a Confederate victory. The Youth also tells Wilson of Jim Conklin's death, and Wilson seems truly sorry. He is delighted, however, that most of the regiment has finally come back.

When an argument breaks out amongst the soldiers, Wilson intervenes to stop it. A few days earlier, he was always fighting with his fellow soldiers over unimportant matters. Now Wilson has become the peacemaker.


Notes

This is a quiet chapter that allows Henry some time to recuperate, both physically and mentally. He has slept well and feels relaxed. He eats breakfast with gusto and enjoys talking with his fellow soldiers. He learns from Wilson that after the first battle (when Henry turned and ran) half of the regiment was dispersed; during the night, however, most of the men have wandered back, one by one, much like Henry. It is safe to assume that Henry has not been the only deserter. Henry must realize this as well, and it surely gives him some degree of comfort.

The Youth notices the drastic change in his friend Wilson. He is one of the first soldiers to awake, and he helps get breakfast for the others. When an argument breaks out, he intervenes and stops it. He is no longer the argumentative and boastful soldier seen during the days before battle; he is now a quiet, considerate, and nurturing peacemaker.

It is important to also notice the beginning changes seen in Henry. He is relaxed and happy; as he carries on casual conversation over breakfast, he also seems a true part of the regiment for the first time in the book. The most important change, however, is that he does not spend time pondering over his shame and guilt. These small changes, and the large ones seen in Wilson, foreshadow that Henry will go through even greater changes.

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