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Jennifer's letter to Stephen Crane
By Jennifer Lewis
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Junior 7-9
Year: 2000 Category: Letters About Literature

Dear Stephen Crane,

My name is Jennifer Lewis, and I'm in the eighth grade. I live in Wasilla, Alaska. I am writing in regards to your book, The Red Badge of Courage. Your book has changed my thought process and the way I look at life. The use of the rich descriptive words used for the sceneries and settings in the story now compels me to go through life looking at things in a different way. For example, when I walked through the forest of Denali National Park in October, on a warm, charming day, it was quickened to my memory of how the gold tinted sunlight looked like a cathedral light casting its rays through the Fir tree tops' greenery, and placing dainty, shadowy patterns on the moss carpeted forest floors below. I looked at the fairy blue sky, and thought of it as speckled with balls of cotton and breakthroughs of light bursting out. When I went to Hatcher's Pass, I looked at the beautiful trickling, green waters smoothly flowing over rounded multicolored rocks and under thin, cold ice, glistening in the sunlight. As the clear waters caught the pureness of the rays, the beauty of it drew me near to extend my hand toward it to touch, but the oneness with the water was almost deadly. I stood to the side and I looked and wondered:

How would I ever go through life without knowing the richness and beauty this earth truly holds?

Your book has changed my way of thinking greatly. When I sit and listen to the news, stories, and broadcastings of wars and bombings happening all over this world, The Red Badge of Courage made me realize the importance of the soldiers. How each one makes a difference in each of our lives. Though many may not realize it, each soldier is a hero, whether they die or not, impact a specific someone, or receive an award or medal, they are all heroes. The way that society thinks today, is that only the strong survive. The truth is, that the ones who died were the strong ones, willing to give up their lives for others. The way that you wrote out Henry's feelings and conscience in the book, and the way you described the painful reality of the men dying in war, really impacted my thoughts and feelings toward soldiers because my dad used to be in the military. It also makes me think that perhaps one day my brother could be in a war, or even one of my three step-brothers could be involved in one.

Your book was very easy to follow. I could read it very effortlessly because it flowed smoothly so well. I liked the way that the description in the story seemed to bring me into the main vein of the action of the story as if a river would carry a newly fallen autumn leaf. Throughout The Red Badge of Courage, I recognized that Henry and I shared many feelings, thoughts, wonders and questions towards war, death, and killing. After finishing the book, these many questions were answered, yet after reading the book a second time, more questions aroused in my mind, like why the soldiers would have to suffer and die for our safety and protection.

Although your book was very good to read, what caught my eye to read it was the title. I like how you chose the color red, because red represents the color of pureness. You could have chosen a color like purple. Just like the military uses purple for he purple heart when wounded in battle. I also like how you described the meaning of the red badge of courage. When I first picked up the book, I thought that that was an actual award, but while reading, I found that it meant a wound that a soldier acquired by being brave and having courage, and not turning away from the battle when all seems to fail. Through that strength and courage, and working together, anyone can overcome a battle. Unconsciously, you changed my life drastically, and with such ease. Through the gift of your writing, you have actually helped me with my writing also. The way your book taught me to look at nature in such a different way, helped me with descriptive writing.

Stephen Crane, I thank you greatly.

Jennifer Lewis
8th Grade
Colony Middle School, Palmer
Teacher: Mrs. Hegg

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