The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is the second classic in Michael Clay Thompson’s Fog Trilogy. With the Civil War as a backdrop, it is the story about Henry Fleming, a young private in the Union Army who flees from battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound—a red badge of courage—to make up for his cowardice.
The Fog Trilogy contains the classic novels The War of the Worlds, The Red Badge of Courage, and Kidnapped. Each book is reproduced in its entirety and includes Michael Clay Thompson's "language illustrations"—close-ups of poetic techniques, four-level analyses of interesting grammar, and comments about writing strategies. Challenging and unfamiliar vocabulary is highlighted and defined in the glossary. The combination of those devices makes these novels perfect companions to his MCT language arts curriculum, which contains grammar, vocabulary, writing, and poetics strands.
This 1895 tale of young soldier Henry Fleming's initial experiences in combat during the Civil War still startles. Artist Vansant captures Fleming's uncertainty and fear quite well, sometimes through effectively understated facial expressions. Yet this adaptation oversimplifies Crane's portrayal of Fleming, ignoring or de-emphasizing the character's other failings: his egotism, his talent for self-justification and the "wild battle madness" underlying much of his later heroism. In Crane's book, Fleming is haunted by his desertion of the dying "tattered man"; in Vansant's version, Fleming forgets him. Though Crane's book is a landmark in realism, the author's symbolic writing turned Fleming's battlefield into a mythic realm. Vansant's conventionally realistic artwork, on the other hand, is more prosaic than Crane's brilliantly descriptive captions. This adaptation faithfully introduces the plot, characters and primary themes of Red Badge to readers unfamiliar with the original book without penetrating the full depths of Crane's masterwork.