The Red Badge of Courage and 1896 “The Veteran” perpetuate Henry’s psychological isolation through a young soldier’s inner monologue of the Civil War, paralleling the isolation both sides of the War Between the States feel and the isolation of America from the world after it reestablishes itself during the Progressive Era via the waves of renewed nationalist sentiment. Stephen Crane’s utilization of multiple metaphors make an appearance in the novel and in the short story: Jim Conklin as romanticism of war, Henry Fleming’s mother as disillusionment with war, a box as the army, slaves as soldiers, a wound as courage, a prophet as Henry, and a flower as confidence. These metaphors showcase a wide variety of axioms of during that particular zeitgeist: the hope that going into war will lead one to glory; the disappointment of going into war; the paranoia and fear that comes with war; the arduous life of a soldier and the misinformation present throughout; the deceitful and cunning means people use to earn fame; the arrogance permeating the atmosphere; and the eventual reappearance of America on the global stage..
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An allusion to supernatural forces illustrates to us the clout of war and the terrestrial, claustrophobic, biblical, and supernatural imageries combine to show the isolationary power of war. The Red Badge of Courage begins with “a tall soldier” declaring that their regiment will ‘move t’ morrah-sure.’ Later on, “the youth (Henry Fleming) discovered that his tall comrade had been the fast-flying messenger of a mistake.” The tall soldier, Jim Conklin, serves as a metaphor for the romanticism and high hopes of glory and fame that many associate with war. His initial declaration that the regiment will finally march excites many of the soldiers as they feel tired of sitting around, and the discovery that the the rumor was false disappoints the soldiers. The disappointment reflects the discouragement many soldiers feel after realizing that war stories glamorize and obscure the reality of it.
In regards to the zeitgeist, the metaphor of Jim Conklin as romanticism of war relates to the many, many soldiers that choose to enlist because they feel that they will receive fame, glory, and praise. However, once fighting many soldiers realize that their dreams may not be fulfilled, causing many to desert out of fear as they realize that in death they may not be identified and will receive no glory. Henry Fleming’s mother serves as the binary metaphor. In her description, she seems to be characterized by her distaste for war: “But his mother had discouraged him. She had affected him to look with some contempt upon the quality of his war ardor and patriotism.” His mother’s hindrance in his beliefs temporarily blinds him from his ambition of enlisting in the war.
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