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The Red Badge of Courage

  • Date Submitted: 06/10/2011 07:03 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.3 
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Yellow, in Goethe's view, produced a warm and agreeable sensation unless
contaminated by other colors, which then provoke negative feelings of revulsion and
impending calamity. Yellow is the color of the light in the barracks but to which
Henry withdraws to consider his situation in the opening pages of the novel. And
yellow is also the color associated with the boy's feeling toward his mother's bustling
practicality, "he had made rebellion against this yellow light thrown upon the color of
his ambitions". (P.4) Here the "yellow" is the color of cowardice. "There was a yellow
patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun." (p.10) "The rushing yellow of the
developing day went on behind their backs."(p.12) He (the loud soldier) handed the
youth "a little packet done up in a yellow envelope." (p.23) When
his hometown, "he saw the yellow road."
yellow in the sunrays." (p.34) As Goethe
(p.27) "The clouds were
an earthlike
suggests that yellow is extremely liable to
contamination, so Crane suggests Henry's response to the rotting corpse which the
boy encounters on the march to the battle by dressing it "in an awkward suit of
yellowish brown". (P.17) And the mouth of the corpse in the forest "chapel" is seen as
"appalling yellow". (P.41)
Blue, for Goethe, is a passive color. Blue implies being sad or depressed. Blue in its
highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Henry Fleming, seeing blue, feels
his own insignificance-he sees war as a "blue demonstration",(p.18) himself only a
part of an impersonal military machine, "He had grown to regard himself merely as a

part of a vast blue demonstration."(p.6) and "in the shadow were a sorry blue",(p.34)
and he sees tiny soldiers gesticulating "against the blue and sombre sky". (P.64)
The color red, according to Goethe, produced a high state of energy and excitement in
the viewer, and also associated by both physiology and common experience with...


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