I found The Red Badge of Courage very interesting. The language of Stephen Crane was very beautifully written. I gained a better understanding of what the Civil War may have been like. With the different directions Henry's character takes you are able to see two sides of his character, and two different kinds of soldiers.
I was surprised that he ran away on the first day, and that he didn't go back when he realized that they were still fighting. Leaving behind the wounded soldier seemed like an insensitive thing to do, but it appeared to me that there wasn't much to be done for the wounded soldiers. There were people bleeding and dying everywhere. Of course, Henry left because he was upset and embarrassed that he didn't have any injuries. The guilt he was feeling propelled some of his bad choices.
I think the important thing is that once the battle was over he was able to look back at that first day and learn from it. During the second day he became a much different person, someone he felt he could be proud of. He had to put his "sin at a distance", and he realized that he despised his early beliefs and was happy to see that change in himself.
Henry was able to overcome his personal struggle and he realized that "he would no more quail before his guides wherever they should point." He felt that he had become a man, and his soul was changed.
A lot of us make bad choices, or do things we regret, but the important thing is to learn from those mistakes. We can put our sins in the distance (repent), and become a better person through the experience. That is was this book was about for me.
Next month we will be discussing White Fang by Jack London. Feel free to join in at the Reading Through History Book Club.