In 1899 his health gave way and the end approached rapidly. His wife took him to Germany where he died at a German health resort in the summer of 1900. He was not yet thirty.
CRANE'S WORKS AND HIS VIEWS ON LITERATURE
From the very beginning of his literary career Crane broke away from the then existing neo-romantic trend. He hated insincerity in art and the literary poseur. Tolstoy was his favourite writer. Crane himself said: "I decided that the nearer a writer gets to life thegreater he becomes as an artist, and most ofmy prose writings have been towards that goal partially described by that misunderstood and abused word, realism. Tolstoy is the writer 1 admire most of all."
Crane proved this principle in his war books. Edwin Markham1 said that in his novel "The Red Badge of Courage" Crane had "ripped away the gilt and glitter that had so long curtained the horror of war, and with a stern realism pictured for us the bloody grime of it all". Readers really saw the common soldier in battle. They understood that the truth had never been told before.
The story is about a young recruit Henry Fleming, son of a farmer, who, in spite of his mother's protests, volunteers for the Northern forces. At the front he is bewildered by the confusion: he can't understand what is happening and regrets he ever left home. He tells himself that he was not made to be a soldier. When fighting begins, he feels he is the only target of the enemy; he is overcome by fear and runs away from the battle-field. This episode in the book gives the psychology of the young soldier,.-Crane shows the conflict of his pride and the instinct of self-preservation -"the fear of fear". He is afraid he will be despised as a deserter. He sees the mutilated corpses of dead soldiers, and is horrified. The glittering "glory" of war that he had always heard about fades. He is torn by conflicting emotions: a growing feeling of protest against the horrors he has witnessed, fear of the contempt of his fellow-soldiers and a desire to show that he too is brave. His mental turmoil increases when he finds himself among badly wounded men headed for the rear. He goes away from them sick at heart over what he has seen. Suddenly he hears the sounds of battle again and although terrified, is drawn irresistibly in the direction of the roar of cannons. Soon he sees rushing towards him panic-stricken soldiers retreating from the field of battle. He wants to cry out, to say something but the only words that come are:" Why - why - what - what's the matter?" The boy keeps repeating" Why -why-" until a soldier that he tries to stop swings his rifle and hits him a crashing blow on the head. In terrible pain, weak from the loss of blood, he drags himself to his feet and staggers away. He thinks of his home, his mother, his childhood. Finally he finds himself back in his unit, he tells the men that he was shot in the head during the fighting, and they believe him, are kind to him and dress his wound. He stays with his regiment; more battles take place and he takes part in the fighting and is even praised by his superiors for courage in battle. At the end of the book Crane says that the boy becomes a man: "He had rid himself of the red sickness of battle. The sultry nightmare was in the past." But he does not think of battles and courage and patriotism. He discovers that he now despises that "brass and bombast" of the glorification of war in newspapers. His mind is filled with "images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks - an existence of soft and eternal peace".
To show his attitude to war and to carry his emotional message to the reader, Crane used colour in his novel in much the same way as the painters of the impressionist school. Crane sees the colour red as a symbol for blood, cruelty, and war. This is how he put it in words: "The red eye-like gleam of hostile camp-fires" seen from across "the sorrowful blackness" of the river at night; he had regarded battles as "crimson blotches on the pages of the past"; before the battle "they were going to look at war, the red animal - war, the blood swollen god"; in a lull after a battle that costs many lives "thered animal -war, the blood swollen god" is "bloated" to the full; gun-fire is a "crimson roar"; the wound of the soldier, thered badge", and the angry irony of the title itself -"The Red Badge of Courage".
Crane's psychological study of the soldier in war was suggested by Tolstoy. Crane inherited from Tolstoy the great writer's dislike for theatrical heroism. He deliberately avoids heroics, and yet never leaves the reader in doubt as to the existence of the heroic.
Crane's experience as a reporter in the Graeco-Turkish and in the Spanish-American War gave him valuable material for his stories. He wrote several collections of stories: "The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure" (1898) and "Wounds in the Rain' (1900), and two collections of poems: "The Black Riders" and" War Is Kind". The latter title is used ironically. In those poems we hear the roar of cannon, we see charging men, wounds and death. Here is part of the first poem; the poems of each collection follow one after another without a title.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls that thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom -
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Hemingway considered Stephen Crane one cu his best teachers. It was from him that Hemingway took his concise style of writing. But Hemingway understood the causes of war, while Crane merely cried out against the cruelty and horror of war. Nevertheless Crane's vivid realistic description of the meaningless inhuman brutality of an imperialist war gives him a lasting place in realistic literature in America.