The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage is a touching book about how a man named Henry deals with war, fear and courage and his place in the war he enlisted for. He has grand ideas of how the war will make him a man. He is involved in a whole day of fighting and interacts with many characters. Names are not really used throughout the book. Henry is referred to as "the youth", one of his comrades is called "his friend", there are others: "the loud one" and "the tall one." Henry struggles through his emotions while he's fighting against the enemy and struggles to find his place. The way things are described, dissected, and pondered over in this book is refreshing. I found myself underlining profound sentences and whole paragraphs. It is a touching story about a boy who goes off to war to become a man, and the fact that through it all he is still human and capable of regrets.
Crane's style is to write in such a way, that the plot may be simple, but there are so many, many thematic layers buried, you could immerse yourself in that text. Same goes for The Red Badge of Courage.
It is the story of Henry Fleming, a new Union soldier fighting in the Civil War. Called an American classic novel, it is exactly that, pulling to light all the struggles 'the youth' feels by going to war, the internal struggles with fear, disappointment to others, and or war in general, and the awesome commentary of human actions.
Characterization is all and well, but I really loved the symbolism of this novel. It's amazing how the earth is such a primary part of the novel, and how the commentary of the maturity of the youth (Fleming is most always referred as that, another symbolism) shines through.
I'd definitely recommend this, simply because it is a really invigorating novel. It pulled me in, and kept me in place.