Red Badge of Courage Summary: The Best First Page


The first page of a novel is the page that can draw the reader in and make them want to continue reading or it can make them put it down and leave it never to be completed.  There are many great first pages but one that stands out most prominently is the first page of Stephen Crane’s novel entitled, The Red Badge of Courage.  Due to its strong scenic description, phrasing of dialogue and meaning, the tone is set for the entire piece of literary work.

The detailed scenic description begins with the first line of text when Crane writes, “The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.”  (ABR, 2015)  This description continues as it details the color change in the landscape and the mood that it created was indicative of a cold, dark war. 

The phrasing of dialogue began on the first page and was distinct as it indicated plans of moving forward into battle thus setting the tone for the premise of the novel.  The tension grew as the soldiers eagerly awaited to take their turn at fighting on the battle field which could possibly lead to receiving a red badge of courage.  There was doubt amongst them which hinted at the struggle that would take place as the reader turned the pages thereafter.  The era was understood as the meaning of war and the change that accompanied it was detrimental for the soldiers described as, “blue-clothed men”. (Crane, 2004)

There is no question why this novel is one of the historical classics as Crane brilliantly creates a vision of time, mood and environment from the first page and continues until the end of the novel.  There is a collage of wonder, concern and curiosity that tantalizes the senses as the eyes read the first page of, The Red Badge of Courage.  The first page depicts the entire book and creates a picture that entices the reader to turn the next page.


  1. American Book Review. (2015). 100 Best First Lines from Novels.  Retrieved from
  3. Crane, S. (2000). The Red Badge of Courage [Pdf version]. Retrieved from
  4.    /The%20Red%20Badge%20of%20Courage.pdf
  5. Crane, S. (2004). The Red Badge of Courage [Html version]. Retrieved from
  6. /CHAPTER_I_p1.html

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