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Word Count: 558
Stephen Cranes The Red Badge of Courage explores the effect of an extreme environment on a fairly typical individual The Youths indoctrination into the glories of warfare gets him to the battle but what keeps him there is something much less based in ideas Cranes depiction of the battle stresses overwhelming sensory overload The battlefront is so loud the soldiers cannot hear each other speak The officers seem to scream incessantly and at times their orders are communicated in gestures The visibility is also extremely compromised by smoke from the rifles The Youth notes several times his difficulty even seeing the enemy at whom he is shooting Visibility is also compromised by the mere fact that a foot soldier is on the ground He can only see a few feet around him most of the time the smoke only clearing occasionally The Youth gets an entirely different picture of the battle with all its different skirmishes that make it up when he gains the vantage point of a hill There he gets a generals eye view and the emotions which this view elicit in him are vastly different ones than those he feels while on the ground When he can see the big picture he has a better understanding of the battle plan and a greater appreciation for his officers In addition to sound and sight the soldiers also experience the immediacy of pain from long marches intense advances and minor wounds They fight exhausted Often they seem to rely on adrenaline to keep them advancing All these sense impressions combine to present a realistic picture of war a picture in which the glorified image of a warrior like Homers Odysseus just does not fit With this picture it becomes much less easy to simplify battle in the ready-made categories of bravery and cowardice Impulse adrenaline rage fear pain all work together to drive the characters to act in ways they might not have ever
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