"The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane is set during the Civil War and follows the journey of young soldier Henry Fleming. Henry dreams of becoming a big war hero, so he signs up to fight -- despite the protests of his mother. When Henry goes into his first battle, he immediately throws down his gun and runs. The rising action follows him on his misadventures until he is reunited with his unit and finds the courage to fight.

Search for Courage

After Henry runs from his unit, he meets a number of other soldiers and misfits on the road. One man, known only as the "Tattered Soldier," assumes that has been wounded in battle and asks Henry where he has been shot. Instead of answering, Henry just runs. Henry dreams of having a "red badge of courage," or a war wound, but he ran from battle. In the rising action, he has a scuffle with another soldier he encounters, who hits Henry in the head with his rifle. This becomes an ironic "red badge of courage" as it technically is a war wound -- but it is not one Henry earned through fighting. When Henry rejoins his unit, he fears the truth behind his wound will be discovered. However, he is redeemed in the climax of the novel, when he fights in battle with real bravery. The rising action follows him as he faces his own fear and overcomes it.