Presentation on Stephen Crane's "With Sweep And Fire" an extract of his novel "The Red Badge Of Courage"

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2003

5 Pages, Grade: 12 Points

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Stephen Crane (1871-1900). Born in Newark, New Jersey, the fourteenth and youngest child of a Methodist minister who died when Stephen was nine years old, Crane was raised by his strong-minded mother. His brief college career, was dominated by his interest in baseball. He left college after two semesters and moved on to a bohemian life in New York City. There he wandered through slums, observing and developing a strong sympathy for the underclass of boozers and prostitutes that inhabited the Bowery.

His first novel, <<Maggie: A Girl of the Streets>> (1893), described the inevitable consequences of grinding poverty - but no publisher would take a chance on Crane's bleak and biting vision. He published it at his own expense, but it found no audience.

Without any military experience, and at the age of twenty-four, Crane produced <<The Red Badge of Courage>> (1895), a novel that made him famous and became an American classic. His book is a realistic account of a young man’s impression of the Civil War. For the remainder of his life, he traveled about the world as a writer and war correspondent. He died of a tubercular infection in Badenweiler, Germany. Despite the brevity of his writing career, Crane left behind a substantial volume of work that includes a number of brilliant short stories and innovative poems.

Source: The introduction in the book on p. 193


On Stephen Crane’s <<With Sweep And Fire>> an extract of his novel <<The Red Badge Of Courage>>.

The Extract of the novel that is based on the American Civil War (1861 - 1865) deals with the former situation during the war seen in the perspective of a young recruit who is inspired by the idea of serving in the army. This young fellow represents the overall attitude of the younger generation - a rather positive point of view towards the war. After a long period of thinking he overcomes his inhibition and enlists in defiance of his mother’s will. Being part of the armed forces demonstrates him the large amount of advantages in this kind of job such as a good reputation due to an obvious presence of patriotism. Furthermore he experiences a mental conflict between his original attitude and the reality - a lurking menace that starts to overwhelm his idealistic image.

The key elements of any novel:

Plot: There are many definitions of plot, but plot is essentially the story, or the events that make up what the book is about. Plot, of course, is defined by conflict, either internal or external, and the best plots are both original and interesting. Complexity of the plot is a matter of taste, so is the setting (such as time period).

Character Development: Bringing the characters to life in the reader's mind. They can range from thumbnail sketches to deep, wordy, highly detailed biographies of each character. It's important to note that different genres and stories require different types of character development.

What is the youth’s attitude to war and why does he become a soldier?

The youth’s attitude to war was a rather positive one. An idealistic point of view,

which gets supported by tales of great movements shaking the land full of glory and prowess - lurid pictures about the war containing extraordinary masculinity, breathless deeds and a tremendous patriotic fighting strength. Due to these reasons a young guy called Henry is very impressed by this armed struggle. Then one night the voice of people rejoicing in the night make him shiver in a prolonged ecstasy of excitement. Finally this event gets him to join the army.

How does Henry’s mother react to his opinion of soldiering?

His mother’s sudden reaction is a comment full of trust in the Lord’s ability. If it’s

God’s will then that’s the way it is and she is convinced that her son will be lead the right way. Because his plan can’t be cancelled anymore she sends him off with common sense advice and by supporting him with the best clothes she could find. Furthermore she tells her son stories about his ideal father. She also warned him to drink no liquor, to stay away from bad soldiers, or to never shirk any duties, like his father did.

Which three main divisions can you identify in the text? Why may the author have chosen this particular structure?

The text is subdivided into three main parts. The first part (up to l. 338) symbolizes the erection of his motivation to become a soldier. It is a straight increasing power, which takes over his rational way of thinking.

In the middle part the decision of joining the army is converted and simultaneously connected with the main advantages of a soldier’s life such as a good reputation. Henry experiences the climax of his life.

During the third part (ll. 453) his moral standards are more and more decreasing and he starts doubting whether he is actually able to handle the situation.

The author might have chosen this particular structure to show the mental ups and downs and a nagging uncertainty the youth has been confronted with.

Examine and explain the effect of the imagery used in ll. 1-15:

By using strong and powerful adjectives readers grow into the atmosphere quite easily.

What point of view does the author employ to convey Henry’s thoughts and feelings?

<<With Sweep and Fire>> is told in the third person. Someone other than Henry

Fleming is telling this story, but it is still Henry Fleming's story. So we can say that the novel's point of view is that of Henry Fleming.

Events in the book are described as they appeared to Henry. This technique is very effective in the battle scenes. The narrator may have read books about the Civil War, and known what was really going on, but Henry didn't. Because we see only what Henry saw, we get a very vivid view of war, with exploding shells, puffs of smoke, the screams of the wounded, and the constant noise of the guns. The chaos and confusion of war are presented through this focus on sometimes confusing details, and the short paragraphs add to the confusion.

How does Henry feel about the battle that is rumored will take place?

The battle that is rumored is Henry’s first actual contact with their enemies. This thought awakes a mental conflict in which he ponders about whether he would run from the battle. Previously he had not felt obliged to tackle this question because he had taken certain things for granted so he never challenged his belief in success. But at the moment he is confronted with irritating lines of thoughts that start growing

panic fear in his mind. He feels that in this crisis his laws of life are useless that is why in the end he starts praying to god asking for help.

The real experience of warfare is that the soldier cannot predict the circumstances that will make him run or stand and fight.

George Washington (1732 - 1799)

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Presentation on Stephen Crane's "With Sweep And Fire" an extract of his novel "The Red Badge Of Courage"
12 Points
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Presentation, Stephen, Crane, With, Sweep, Fire, Badge, Courage
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Claudius Lindner (Author), 2003, Presentation on Stephen Crane's "With Sweep And Fire" an extract of his novel "The Red Badge Of Courage", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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