One’s actions under substantial stress reveals his true identity. If one possesses courage, he will perform heroic deeds. Conversely, if one possesses cowardice, he will timidly withdraw from the adverse situation.
In The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, “An Episode of War” by Stephen Crane, “The Luck of Roaring Camp” by Bret Harte, and “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte, certain characters in each literary piece transmute their timidity during immense conflict. When confronted with adversity, Henry seized the flag during the battle, the Lieutenant accepted the tragic amputation with humility, Kentuck risked his life to save the child, and Mother Shipton sacrificed herself for the general well-being of the outcasts. While under heavy fire, Henry overcame his personal struggle by seizing the flag from the fallen color bearer. Prior to his transformation, Henry anxiously retreated and attested to trepidation in the field of battle. In spite of this former sense of faintheartedness, Henry displayed a transformation of character when he repossessed the flag.
He exhibited true courage in this scene, because he attempted to bring solidarity to his scattered regiment. In summation, Henry conquered his internal fears when he seized the flag during battle. Similarly, the lieutenant’s perspective of the war changed after he received amputation. Certainly the lieutenant was an instrument of the war before being shot, but the wound distinguished him from the rest of the soldiers. Due to his injury, he became a part of the war in a much more fundamental manner. Through his amputation, the lieutenant accepted the unpleasant condition humbly, and gained an entirely new outlook on the war.
Ultimately, the lieutenant altered the way he perceived the war after amputation. Likewise, a prime example of change from adverse circumstance occurs when Kentuck attempted to save the child he once cursed. Immediately after the birth of Cherokee Sal’s child, Kentuck referred to him as, “the damned little cuss” (Harte). A change transpires within Kentuck, however, when he sacrificed his own life during the flash flood to save Tommy Luck. While his efforts proved unsuccessful, the attempt itself represents a transformation of character. Overall, Kentuck changed his stubbornness during the extremity of the flash flood.
Correspondingly, when Mother Shipton gave up her rations for the greater good of the outcasts, she demonstrated a transformation of character. Mother Shipton, along with the Duchess, expressed annoyance at the lively Piney Woods, “as the lovers parted, they unaffectedly exchanged a kiss, so honest and sincere that it might have been heard above the swaying pines. The frail duchess and the malevolent Mother Shipton were probably too stunned to remark upon this last evidence of simplicity, and so turned without a word to the hut” (Harte). The character renewed herself toward the end of the story when she gave up her rations to save the prior object of her annoyance. Her subsequent death symbolized sheer sacrifice in the face of adversity. Amidst intense battle conflict, Henry defeated his individual strife by repossessing the flag to direct the members of his dispersed regiment.
The lieutenant’s perception of the war transformed after he received amputation. During the flash flood, Kentuck attempted to protect the child he once cursed. Mother Shipton starved herself for the well-being of Piney Woods when faced with the dangers of the Californian wilderness. These characters initially possess flaws, but they eventually redeem themselves under tremendously stressful circumstances. The characters’ actions under the taxing circumstances ultimately disclose their true convictions.