Red Badge of Courage: Humorous Summary

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When my 14-year-old son asked if he could write a humorous summary of The Red Badge of Courage, I was skeptical whether he could pull it off, but he did!

We are working on building our Civil War binder, and the kids could choose what their writing assignments would be. Even though I read several works of literature to the kids aloud, they also had other Civil War books they read on their own, and one of those books was The Red Badge of Courage. Only my older two sons were required to read it, since the reality of the shock of war might be inappropriate for younger children. For kids ages 12 and up, there are many philosophical questions that arise about the value of war and its effects on a man. This makes the book worth reading because it deepens the reader’s understanding of war.

Here is the humorous writing assignment that summarizes the book quite well:

The Red Badge of Courage: A Summary

by Bryan Evans

So this guy hears about another glorious victory, and he decides to join the army. His mother says not to but he does anyway. Once he’s there, he waits for days and days in camps without a battle, all the time contemplating whether he would chicken out and run away at the first battle. They finally march, and he starts thinking he didn’t join of his own accord; he was forced by the government.

The battle starts, and bullets are shot, and there’s smoke everywhere while some of the people in his regiment run away. Then he runs away. He immediately hears his regiment won. He gets really mad and calls all the people in his regiment fools.

He walks off into the forest and thinks about how he ran away. He throws a pine cone at a squirrel, and the squirrel runs to a tree and climbs up the tree and into its hole. He says, “See? It’s a law of nature! The squirrel didn’t expose itself to the pine cone; it retreated!”

He then stumbles across a dead guy, and he shrieks and runs away. He comes to a retreating regiment and tries to stop someone to ask why they were running away. He finally manages to grab someone’s rifle, and he says, “Why, why?” The other guy hits him on the head with the rifle.

Late that night, he comes back to the camp with blood all over his head and says, “I held ’em off for a while, but I got hurt really bad.” While they doctor him, they say, “That’s funny, you look just like you got hit on the head with a rifle!” Then he goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning.

They go to another battle, and he fights like a bullet-shooting machine. Someone says, “Hey, there’s no point shooting when there’s nothing to shoot at.” He looks up and sees that he’s shooting at the air. They make a big charge, and he runs with all his might toward that group of trees. It feels to him like he charges for ages but later he looks at the same trees and thinks it really isn’t that far. The General says to the Colonel that the guys in his regiment don’t fight very well.

They say, “Oh yeah? We’ll show him!” And they make another charge, this time a bigger one. He runs with all his might again. Then the flag bearer dies. Quickly, he grabs the flag and keeps charging. They get to enemy lines, and they absolutely demolish them. His friend grabs the enemy flag, and that particular attack is completely successful. The General says to the Colonel, “Wow, those two people holding flags kept the flags way out in front. Maybe they should go up in the ranks because they fought so well.” He and his friend say, “YEAH!”

But the ghost of the first battle when he ran away haunts him. He decides to just forget about his retreat from the first battle. So that’s what he does.

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