Before the battle

Words: 301-400

Skills: Character Traits Context Clues Summary Theme

Grades: 8th 9th 10th

Topics: Adventure / Thriller and Historical Fiction

Genres: Prose

Lexile Range:

Lexile Measure:

CCSS: History/Social Studies and Reading: Literature

Themes:

Before the Battle


by Stephen Crane from The Red Badge of Courage

Chapter I passage: Stephen Crane's classic tale "The Red Badge of Courage" examines a young Union soldier during the American Civil War. Henry Fleming wants to be a hero, but events turn out differently. In this passage, Henry is about to go into battle and is not sure how he will act. After reading the text, students will answer questions on the theme and the language.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Before the Battle

by Stephen Crane from The Red Badge of Courage
In Stephen Crane’s novel, The Red Badge of Courage, Henry Fleming is a young Union soldier in the Civil War. Before he enlisted, Henry had a romantic view of war. This passage takes place before Henry’s first battle as a soldier.

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However, he perceived now that it did not greatly matter what kind of soldiers he was going to fight, so long as they fought, which fact no one disputed. There was a more serious problem. He lay in his bunk pondering upon it. He tried to mathematically prove to himself that he would not run from a battle.

Previously he had never felt obliged to wrestle too seriously with this question. In his life he had taken certain things for granted, never challenging his belief in ultimate success, and bothering little about means and roads. But here he was confronted with a thing of moment. It had suddenly appeared to him that perhaps in a battle he might run. He was forced to admit that as far as war was concerned he knew nothing of himself.

A sufficient time before he would have allowed the problem to kick its heels at the outer portals of his mind, but now he felt compelled to give serious attention to it.

A little panic-fear grew in his mind. As his imagination went forward to a fight, he saw hideous possibilities. He contemplated the lurking menaces of the future, and failed in an effort to see himself standing stoutly in the midst of them. He recalled his visions of broken-bladed glory, but in the shadow of the impending tumult he suspected them to be impossible pictures.

He sprang from the bunk and began to pace nervously to and fro. “Good Lord, what’s th’ matter with me?” he said aloud.

He felt that in this crisis his laws of life were useless. Whatever he had learned of himself was here of no avail. He was an unknown quantity. He saw that he would again be obliged to experiment as he had in early youth. He must accumulate information of himself, and meanwhile he resolved to remain close upon his guard lest those qualities of which he knew nothing should everlastingly disgrace him. “Good Lord!” he repeated in dismay.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. What does disputed mean here: "he perceived now that it did not greatly matter what kind of soldiers he was going to fight, so long as they fought, which fact no one disputed"?



2. What is Henry thinking about in this passage?



3. Explain what "his visions of broken-bladed glory" means.



4. What does Henry learn about himself in this passage?