Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters
The two soldiers scuffle for possession of the flag as the regiment
retreats and advances. Henry feels choked and burning but does not share in
the general panic. In hand-to-hand fighting, the soldiers rally round the
flag, and Henry feels proud that if they are to be defeated they will die
There is a lull in the battle and the soldiers return to their encampment.
When Henry hears two officers praising the flag-bearers, and hears his name
mentioned, he thrills with pride. When the soldiers emerge to pursue the enemy,
Henry still carries the flag, resolved not to give it up.
The colonel commands the regiment to charge, and Henry, with the flag, stays
near the front, urging the men on. He sees the rival color-bearer wounded
but fighting furiously. The Union soldiers attack, capture the flag, and take
Slowly the soldiers realize that the fury has all but ceased. Henry wonders
"What now?" as the regiment marches back along the corpse-strewn
ground. Fate has been kind to Henry. He feels humble in the face of his triumph
and his guilt, but the sky, he thinks, the sky will forget. He smiles as he
sees the world as a world for him, now that he has rid himself of the red
sickness of battle. He turns to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool
Henry always stayed in the front and encouraged the other soldiers
to fight harder showing much courage. He was complimented by the Colonel,
but despite his victory, he still feels guilty about deserting his regiment
the day before.
The dominant philosophy in this book was that Henry and his
fellow soldiers were not in complete control of their actions during the heat
of battle. They fought despite the risk of death not because of their love
for their country but for adrenaline, while the soldiers who deserted did
so not because of apathy for their country, but for the fear of the moment.