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Red Badge of Courage Color Concordance

Page history last edited by Andrew Kalaidjian 10 years, 8 months ago

Red Badge of Courage Color Concordance

Andrew Kalaidjian



The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing from long troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber-tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the army's feet; and at night, when the stream had become of a sorrowful blackness, one could see across it the red, eyelike gleam of hostile camp-fires set in the low brows of distant hills...


This project will create a visual concordance for Stephen Crane's use of color in The Red Badge of Courage. The goal of the project is to better visualize Crane's impressionistic style. Users should be able to quickly view the appearance of certain colors in the work and gain a sense of the themes, images and sensations associated with each color. The concordance will list each color separately; however, users will also have the option of looking at passages that combine multiple colors. The concordance will help users visualize how Crane combines colors to create larger imaginative effects. 


Some Hypotheses: The color blue primarily refers to the blue of the union uniform: I expect to see a correspondence between Henry's narrative arc (fleeing-boasting-confidence) and the presence of the blue army. 

The presence or lack of so-called natural colors (green, brown, blue) should become less frequent as the "unnatural" battle progresses. 

Red should refer to the largest number of different images and emotions. 

Colors of decoration (purple, gold) should come in towards the end of the book. 


Limitations: This project risks being an overly-literal and reductive analysis of Crane's use of color. A true understanding should be more nuanced and imaginative. This project should not be interpreted as an absolute way of visualizing color; instead, it is merely a good starting point for understanding Crane's use of color. 




The project is currently complete in a minimalist form. Each of the references to color in the novel are arranged in a quilt-like pattern. When the user mouses over a square, the citation appears next to the visual. 


Future implementations: A future iteration would include the ability to isolate individual colors. The ability to click on a color and see its location in the full text. Isolation for "collage" passages that combine multiple colors. 


Wish List: It would be great to be able to view different combinations of colors. Would probably need to use flash or some sort of programming for this feature.

A program that could automatically produce this type of output for any text. 

Some link to twitter/RSS that could connect colors to current references to colors in tweets or current war reporting. 


Observations: The color blue is interesting to follow throughout the work, especially towards the end with the climactic battle scene where the wave of blue troops dominates the color scheme as well.  

The dénoument is an interesting combination of patriotic colors (red, white, blue) and decorative colors (purple, gold).  

Metals add an interesting element to the color scheme (brass, bronze, gold, silver, steel).  

Colors refer to emotions, sounds and abstract imagery. 



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