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The Red Badge of Courage

             "It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow to fond of it.
             Why would we grow so fond of war? because it is in our nature to do so. The tendency to make war is at the very core of our society. This is illustrated in the novel The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. Published in 1895 this book follows a young Union solder through the psychological stress of combat. The impersonality of war and war as the nature of society are to main themes of the novel. .
             In the very first chapter of the book these themes are everywhere. "Shucks!" said the loud one. The youth remained silent for a time"(9). The author gives very few of the characters in this story names, they are simply referred to as the tall solder or the tattered solder. This is done not only to let us know instantaneously something of there personality but also to demonstrate the impersonality of war and by extension our society. It is true that in modern society you are, in most cases not know by your name but as a number next to a lot of other numbers in a file some where. Students are known simply by their matric number. You are known to the IRS simply as 123-45-6789. Just as the solder on the battle field will rarely know the all names of his comrades, let alone his enemy's, although they may be quite the same, and at that moment will have, ironically, a huge impact on each other's life. They will never see through the crimson fog of war and know anything more about the person they are killing but that they are enemies. "The only foes he had seen were some pickets along the river bank.who sometimes shot reflectively at the blue pickets"(7). It was common during the civil war for pickets and sentries to converse during long night watches but if they could see each other they would zealously open fire without ever wondering if they were shooting at someone they knew. Similarly if you were to meet someone on the streets of New York at night you wouldn't even make eye contact but had you met the same person at a party or other friendly environment you might become friends.

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