Henry is horrified. He had convinced himself that the battle
was lost, that only fools stood, and that he was superior. Now he feels resentment
toward his comrades because he thinks that they have betrayed him. He hears
sounds of firing and runs in a panic. In the woods he throws a pinecone at
a squirrel and is reassured when the squirrel runs. That is nature's law,
he tells himself; the wise man runs from danger.
He plunges into a grove where the branches make a sort of chapel
and confronts a long-dead corpse with ants crawling on its gray face. He hastily
leaves the spot and runs in blind despair until he comes to a road clogged
with wounded men leaving the battle. He attempts to join the bloody band and
wearily walks with them until a tattered soldier asks him where he is wounded.
Guiltily, Henry flees, leaving the soldier astonished.
He now meets Jim Conklin, terribly wounded. Jim tells him he
is afraid he will fall and be run over, and implores Henry to stay with him.
A moment later, changing his mind, he asks to be left alone. The tattered
soldier, rejoining Henry advises him to get Jim out of the road, but before
Henry can do so Jim breaks away and runs into the fields. He breaks into a
paroxysm of death, performing "a sort of hideous hornpipe" before
he falls dead. Henry, appalled, shakes his fist at the battlefield.
After Henry deserts, he finds Jim and walks with him for a while
before Jim dies.
Henry's feeling of guilt slowly abates when he encounters others
who have deserted also. They help to alter his opinions of himself and his
Crane uses symbolism through the color red which represents
courage and the dreams of Henry Fleming, who is known as the youth. Crane
emphasizes this aspect of the novel when the youth observes the bloody wounds
of soldiers from battle. The youth envies the soldiers with their wounds because
to Henry, they represent a red badge of courage.