I’ve discovered a website called Shmoop.com, a place every lifelong learner, autodidact and home educator should explore. I’m particularly grateful for the literature guides they’ve created for lots of famous novels. As they guide readers through challenging material, they do so in a conversational and comfortable tone, making the books seem intriguing and understandable.Take The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, for example. The students and I are reading that book for the American Literature home-school class I’m facilitating. Shmoop created not only a summary of the book but also a section entitled “Why Should I Care?” This is particularly helpful for high school students who seem to wonder with every assignment why it should matter to them today.Thanks to Shmoop, I can provide compelling arguments for why the themes and treatment of The Red Badge of Courage are relevant to today’s readers.The top tabs include:
- chapter summaries
- quotes from the book
- character descriptions
- analysis (which includes setting, genre, point of view, tone and plot analysis)
- study questions
- a round-up of the “best of the web” when it comes to additional The Red Badge of Courage or Stephen Crane resources.
Sparknotes and Cliff’s Notes are also valuable teaching resources that I’ve used while preparing to discuss The Red Badge of Courage and other novels with the class. But Shmoop’s fun and lively personality makes me feel like I’m talking with a friend from a book club—a really smart friend who has done great research.If you are looking for a study guide to use with students—something they can fill out as they read—Glencoe published a helpful The Red Badge of Courage study guide. Also, Hewitt Homeschooling has a literature series called Lightning Lit. One of the samples they provide to give you a taste of their study guide format happens to be a section on The Red Badge of Courage. Click here to view. I liked that they used Crane’s writing to introduce a lesson on the power of descriptive writing.If you don’t have a copy of The Red Badge of Courage, you can read it online several places:
- The Literature Page
- Page by Page Books
- The Literature Network
- Carnegie Mellon University
- University of Virginia
Finally, John Huston made a film of the book in 1951, starring Audie Murphy as Henry Fleming.This following trailer gives you a taste of the movie in a vintage style (though the clips include battle scenes).[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNLOXYY17PQ]As you continue exploring classics, consider swinging by Shmoop for a quick overview. With their input, I enjoyed and appreciated The Red Badge of Courage on a deeper level than I would have on my own.Visit my other Explore the Classics post: The Scarlet Letter (a pre-Shmoop overview)
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Missy K says
Thanks for this– I have been planning on reading Red Badge with my son, and this will help supplement our discussions. He has a boy’s insatiable curiosity about war and violence and I want to begin to use what we read to talk about these things well.
Trish Southard says
Off I go to the garage to pull out my beloved English Majors old books from school. I love when you force me out of my reading comfort zone.
Hi Ann! Thanks for much for your kind words about Shmoop (note there is no “c” in our name, but in case anyone types in schmoop.com it will automatically redirect you to shmoop.com) 🙂
For anyone studying Red Badge with their children, I’d also like to point out that Shmoop covers the Civil War in our US History section – this is a great opportunity to introduce the historical period and to give more historical context to the novel.
Our Civil War guide is at: http://www.shmoop.com/civil-war
Our Red Badge of Courage guide is at: http://www.shmoop.com/red-badge-of-courage/
Brady & the Shmoop team
Brady–wow, how did I get that stuck in my head with the “c”? My apologies. I’ve edited to Shmoop.com throughout. Thanks for the link to the Civil War and Red Badge guides. I really appreciate the tone in Shmoop. My students are going to prepare a lesson themselves, and I’m going to send them to Shmoop first.