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Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage Vs. Ernest Hemingway’s, a Farewell to Arms

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The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway have similarities and differences that dealt with the author’s style of writing and the content of the story. Both stories support the idea of how war is difficult and how it affected life and reality. However, both stories have their differences and similarities.

Both authors have their differences and similarities in style. Both their style includes their detailed descriptions on the settings, the lack of emotion described in the characters, the use of symbolism, and the lack of description of the characters’ physical appearances.

Both authors have differences in their way of writing. Ernest Hemingway enjoys starting his chapters with a description of what the character is doing and where the character is, whereas Stephen Crane connects his chapters together into one idea. Ernest Hemingway concludes his chapters formally similar to the way he starts them. Both stories have opposite endings. In The Red Badge of Courage, the story ends with Henry marching with the troops and imagining the world as beauty. He felt a ‘quiet manhood’ within himself and the last lines written were that a golden ray of sun is running through the hosts of leaden rain clouds. (Chapter 24; page 155) This was a happy ending. On the other hand, A Farewell to Arms ended tragically. Using symbolism and foreshadowing, Hemingway ended the story with Henry leaving the hospital after Catherine’s death heading back to his hotel in the rain. (chapter 41; page 332) Unlike the Red Badge of Courage, it was open-ended.

In The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane has a very detailed description of settings such as the way he describes the meadow, the sun, and the mountains. In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway, like Stephen Crane, also enjoys describing his settings in a very detailed form. Crane and Hemingway describe nature similarly. However, Crane uses more colors in his description.

Although Crane and Hemingway both have detailed descriptions of settings and sceneries, they lack in describing a character’s emotion and their physical appearances. Characters were left a mystery to the readers. In The Red Badge of Courage, all we know about Henry is that he was young because he was referred to as ‘the youth’, and the same to all the other characters. They were described as tall or fat. In this story, some of Henry’s emotions were shared. His emotions usually involve his doubt for himself of not having courage. Hemingway, however, describes his characters a little more than Crane does. Catherine was said to have long blonde hair and tawny skin (chapter 4; page 18). However, no emotions were shown within the characters, just what were obvious. Although not enough description was given, the characters were still complex because of the mystery the authors gave to them. But both authors still left a small gap between the characters and the readers. The readers, themselves, have to find a deeper understanding of the characters.

Symbolism plays a significant role in both stories including the authors’ use of imagery, foreshadowing, and hidden meanings behind certain objects or scenes. In The Red Badge of Courage, the title itself was already a symbol. According to the story, the red badge of courage was a wound. Henry Fleming believed that when one gets a wound or injury, they just proved courage and bravery to others. He was envious of them therefore, he also wants that ‘red badge of courage’ to prove that he’s not a coward (chapter 9; page 61). The dead soldier in the story, at first, gave Henry the idea that he should flee and leave smarter soldiers in battle to fight, however, later on, the soldier forced Henry to over think things so he’ll know if what he’s doing is acceptable (chapter 7; page 53). This showed the readers that he will have to make a choice and accept the fact that he has to fight in battle. (chapter 8; pages 59-61) Henry’s earlier conversation with Jim Conklin and Wilson shows us that he will later face battle and decide whether to flee or fight. It was not only symbolic but also foreshadowing because this gives the message to the readers that something bad will happen soon. Another use of foreshadowing also occurred when Wilson gave Henry a yellow envelope to give to his family in case anything bad was to happen to him (chapter 3; page 31).

Throughout A Farewell to Arms, symbolism occurred constantly. Water was a major symbol along with the hidden meanings of Henry’s description of Catherine’s hair and the painted horse (chapter 20; page 128). Water was mentioned continuously throughout the story, such as the rain, the lake to Switzerland (chapter 37), and the river from how Henry swam to escape from the Germans (chapter 30; page 225). As for the rain, Catherine mentions that she was afraid of it (chapter 19; pages 125-126). And at the end of the book, after Catherine’s death, Henry leaves the hospital alone in the rain (chapter 41; page 332). The rain was a recurring topic in the story. Every time raining was described in a scene, something negative seems to occur or is occurring. Although the description of Catherine’s hair was only mentioned once, it is still an important symbol. In the early days of their relationship, Catherine let her hair down and let it cascade on Henry’s face and it reminded Henry of being in a tent or behind a waterfall (chapter 38). This symbolizes the couple being able to be alone in peace even with a war surrounding them.

Hemingway uses foreshadowing a lot, including the time when Henry says that life kills the good, the brave, and the gentle and when Catherine said she felt that dreadful things were going to occur (chapter 18; page 116). One of these foreshadowing is when the doctor warned that Catherine’s hips were too narrow (chapter 38; page 294). This sends a message to the readers that something unpleasant may happen during the moment when Catherine is having the baby. These little details may be hints to the readers about events or situations that may occur later on in the story.

These authors’ stories may differ or share in their theme, conflict, point-of-view, the author’s and narrator’s tones, and settings. Both stories share the same idea of how war can affect someone’s life. It also includes what a soldier experiences during war and what they think of it.

In The Red Badge of Courage, the author’s tone seems to be realistic. Crane seems to be looking down on Henry. He makes Henry seems like a coward who’s afraid of fighting and getting hurt. In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway’s tone is similar to that of Frederic Henry. He seems to see and feel what Henry see and feel. In both stories, the authors seem to view war as unnecessary and evil. Not many positive or beneficial events happened in either story due to the presence of war. However, most events or situations caused by the war were negative and destructive.

The Red Badge of Courage took place during the American Civil War around year 1863, whereas A Farewell to Arms took place during World War I around year 1917 in Italy and Switzerland. Both stories dealt with the problems that war can cause. Both protagonists, Henry Fleming and Frederic Henry are volunteer soldiers. Henry joined the Union army as a private to find out about himself and to overcome his fear. Frederic, an American, joined the Italian Army for no reason as he said so himself to Catherine (chapter 5; pages 22-23). The similarity is that both stories states that the characters are volunteer soldiers, however patriotism was not mentioned.

Although the topic of both stories dealt with war and battle, things are quite different. The Red Badge of Courage carries the theme of courage and the struggle between one’s self and others. Henry Fleming doesn’t know whether to flee or to fight. He knows that if he flees, he’ll seem like a coward and bring his army down, but if he fights, he’ll probably get hurt or even face death. Throughout the story, Henry’s doubt of himself continues constantly, until the end when he is more experienced and matured. He viewed war as a test and believed that he has passed it successfully.

A Farewell to Arms carries the theme of the relationship between love and pain. Henry shares his love for Catherine. However, the couple goes through many obstacles in order to remain together and these obstacles causes pain for them. In the end of the story, Catherine dies, and Henry felt what it was like to lose someone he loves. This story portrays the hard reality of life during war.

In The Red Badge of Courage, the conflict is Henry verse himself because he was always afraid of battle. He constantly asks himself if anyone else is also in doubt of their own courage. In A Farewell to Arms, the conflict, similar to Henry Fleming, is man verse himself. Henry’s love for Catherine couldn’t end his own doubt of not being able to love.

The point-of-view in both stories affected the reader’s perspective. In The Red Badge of Courage, the narrator, Henry Fleming, talks from a third-person limited omniscient point-of-view. Henry’s thoughts and feelings were visible but the other characters’ emotions were unknown. In A Farewell to Arms, the narrator, Frederic Henry talks from a first person point-of-view but sometimes jumps to second person during his self-reflections or flashbacks. Henry only talks about what he sees and what he does. He doesn’t include much about his feelings or thoughts.

Both authors shared and differed in both style and content. Both stories are about how war can affect people and their lives. In both stories, war affected both Fleming and Henry negatively. Fleming was able to overcome the cruelty and negativity of war, however, Henry had to face the worst of it. Overall, the two stories have many similarities and differences according to the author’s style of writing and the content of the story.

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Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage vs. Ernest Hemingway’s, A Farewell to Arms. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from
“Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage vs. Ernest Hemingway’s, A Farewell to Arms.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage vs. Ernest Hemingway’s, A Farewell to Arms. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2021].
Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage vs. Ernest Hemingway’s, A Farewell to Arms [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 26 [cited 2021 Dec 6]. Available from:
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