He knew he could never get through it all again.“Soldier’s Home”. “I don’t want to go through that hell again.”
In the works of Ernest Hemingway, which is excluded is often as significant as that which is included; a hint is often as important and thought-provoking as an explicit statement. This is why we read and reread him. “Soldier’s Home” is a prime example of this art of echo and indirection.
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Harold Krebs, the protagonist of “Soldier’s Home,” is a young veteran portrayed as suffering from an inability to readjust to society–Paul Smith has summarized previous critics on the subject of how Krebs suffers from returning to the familial, social, and religious” home”(71). Moreover, as Robert Paul Lamb notes, the story is also about “a conflicted mother-son relationship”(29).
Krebs’ small-town mother cannot comprehend her son’s struggles and sufferings caused by the war. She devotes herself to her religion and never questions her own values; she manipulates her son. She is one of the Hemingway “bitch mothers” who also appear in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” and “Now I Lay Me.” Her sermons to her son lack any power to heal his spiritual wounds. She has determined that Krebs should live in God’s “Kingdom,” find a job and get married like a normal local boy (SS 151).
Although Hemingway locates the story in Oklahoma and excludes it from the Nick Adams group, the husband and wife relationship observed in” Soldier’s Home” is also similar to those in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” and “Now I Lay Me,” revealing the mother’s dominance of a troubled marriage.
Krebs’ noncommittal father is obviously dominated by his wife; she makes the decisions. Her advocacy of marriage for Krebs is ironic: not yet recovered from his various psychic wounds and trapped by the sick marriage of his parents, marriage is the very commitment he must avoid.
Furthermore, a careful reading of “Soldier’s Home” reveals yet another story discernible beneath the main one. Krebs’ indifference towards the girls in the town seems to reflect his disillusionment not only with the war and his parents’ marriage but also with another experience–Krebs’ breaking up with a lover:
Now he would have liked a girl if she had come to him and not wanted to talk. But here at home, it was all too complicated. He knew he could never get through it all again. Here is a significant ambiguity: “it all” may well connote the whole process of being and ceasing to be a lover, and “again” suggests that Krebs has been through this process before.
Descriptions of Krebs’ lack of involvement with the local girls occupy one-fourth of the story. These descriptions converge around the word “complicated,” repeated four times in this context. The girls live in “a complicated world” (148); “They were too complicated” (148); “it [to talk to a girl] is too complicated” (149); and “He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated”.
The latter quotation suggests that the most difficult problem is not the complicated realm of the girls, but Krebs’ fear of the complexity that might result from any approach he might make. Once he talks to a girl, he must get through a complicated sexual encounter all over again. Conversations, for Krebs, make the male/female sexual relationship complicated.
His aversion to such relationships, we are to infer, derives from previous experiences with women that have perhaps reinforced his observations of his parents’ marriage. As many have noted (see Smith 71-72), one of the photographs discussed in the story’s opening paragraphs suggests an unsatisfactory experience with German girls.
Krebs and another corporal, both in poorly fitting uniforms, stand with two German girls Who are “not beautiful” beside the Rhine that “does not show in the picture”(145). The picture suggests an irony: the American soldiers, once enemies, date German girls with whom they share no common language. Because the American soldiers do not have to talk, and because the German girls are probably prostitutes, relationships between them are uncomplicated.
Without any need for conversation, the soldiers simply satisfy their lust on the prostitutes’ bodies. Just as he emphasizes the German girls’ lack of beauty, Hemingway also erases the Rhine to show the lack of romance in such relationships. In “Soldier’s Home,” he juxtaposes two worlds: the simple one Krebs shared with the German girls, and the potentially complicated realm of the hometown girls.
“A Very Short Story,” written between June and July 1923, helps shed light on this aspect of the later “Soldier’s Home,” composed in April 1924. An equally bleak story, also a mixture of Hemingway’s own experiences and fictitious material, “A Very, Short Story” appeared first as the untitled Chapter Ten in the 1924 three mountains press in our time, and was later titled and revised for inclusion in the 1925 Scribner’s In Our Time. The crucial difference between the two versions is that the name of the protagonist’s lover has been changed from Ag in the 1924 edition to Luz in the 1925 edition.
It is well known that the love affair between a wounded soldier and a nurse, as well as the miserable end of that affair, is based on Hemingway’s own experience of being jilted by Agnes von Kurowsky. However, the story’s conclusion, where the protagonist has a sexual encounter with a salesgirl in a taxicab and contracts gonorrhea, is considered fictitious.
As Robert Scholes and Scott Donaldson have observed, this conclusion reflects Hemingway’s undisguised anger towards “Ag” and his own self-pity. Taking some expressions and ideas directly from Agnes’ “Dear John” letter of 7 March 1919 (qt. in Villard and Nagel 163-64), Hemingway drew the raw materials for “A Very Short Story” from his own experience.
If “A Very Short Story” is one version of Hemingway’s unhappy love affair with Agnes, “Soldier’s Home” maybe another–more sophisticated because its author’s bitterness is more sublimated. The “it” in “never get through it all again” may fruitfully be interpreted as Hemingway’s suffering after he received the letter from Agnes.
He describes Krebs’ self-protective attitude, his aversion to being trapped by another love affair that may bring him new pain: “It was not worth it. Not now when things were getting good again” (148). Krebs does not want to be disturbed; it is good enough for him simply to “look at” girls on the street (147,148).
He is able to keep his mind peaceful by avoiding talking to the girls. Although the first part of the story suggests that some of Krebs’ trauma has been caused by the war, a related and complementary inference is that he may also be recovering from the shocks of a failed love affair.
In The Sun Also Rises, Brett Ashley speaks of her inner torment–” I don’t want to go through that hell again” (SAR 26)–in language that echoes Krebs’. Brett rebuffs Jake. Because of his impotence, Jake and Brett can never fully satisfy each other.
“That hell again” suggests both their unconsummated love affair and their suffering from the hesitant and inconsequential encounters they have already experienced. Both Krebs and Brett decline to repeat such experiences. When we consider the intentionality behind Hemingway’s intertextuality, we realize that both characters share a deep wound.
In “Soldier’s Home,” Hemingway avoids any explicit description of what happened to Krebs during the war, especially in the matter of the love affair. Instead, Hemingway portrays Krebs’ postwar reaction to the town girls, and we note his condition and behavior and infer a cause.
Both the physical distance between Krebs and the girls and his role as an onlooker give him a sense of security. While Krebs remains in a safety zone “on the front porch,” he is protected. The girls walk “on the other side of the street”; nothing can touch him (147-48).
Like sophisticated Brett Ashley, these small-town Oklahoma girls celebrate a new era with short skirts and short hair. Krebs admires them, yet he protects himself from the danger of sexual involvement as if he were still suffering from a previous affair. He has to control himself. Only as an onlooker can he avoid the “complicated world”: But they [the girls] lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or courage to break into it.
Ironically, Hemingway uses the terms “alliances” and “feuds,” words appropriate to conflicts between nations and families, to describe the girls’ complicated world. Moreover, he uses related terms to describe Krebs’ feelings towards that world: “He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics” (147). By emphasizing discord and friction, such terms suggest a conflict already experienced by Krebs, a conflict further revealed as follows:
He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences. Besides he did not really need a girl. (147) The repetition of “consequences” sounds too portentous for the previous problem to have been a merely casual love affair.
The discontinuity between Krebs’ prewar and postwar periods is obvious. Through the experience of battle, he seems to have lost his belief in God and the Kingdom which his mother claims. Krebs is isolated, having lost all feeling of belonging or togetherness. But he is attracted by the girls’ “patterns” which represent their identification with a group, an identification he once shared. Perhaps his is a bitter and only half-realized nostalgia.
Here is a veteran, a possibly heartbroken young man, who keeps himself away from the complex world, stays on the porches, and simply watches girls on the street. However, Krebs makes an exception for his young sister Helen. She is accepted in his realm. She extracts his pledge to be her “beau”(150).
On a superficial level, she seems to be just another girl attempting to pull him into a complex world; however, in her innocence, she intends no such thing. An incestuous relationship between brother and sister is suggested in Hemingway’s later, posthumously published work “The Last Good Country” and its related manuscripts (NAS 70-132). But here, in “Soldier’s Home,” there is no hint of incest.
The brother-sister relationship remains a simple form of love in “Soldier’s Home.”The young sister’s love for her brother is a mixture of respect and innocent affection. Her regard and love have a healing effect on Krebs. Although she is as talkative as her mother, Helen’s invitation is to a simple world.
Moreover, Krebs, who has yet to exchange a word with the girls in the town, enjoys talking with his sister because there is no danger of being trapped in the complex man-woman world. Krebs simply accepts her invitation and goes to the schoolyard to see her pitch, as proof of their mutual love.
Thus, “Soldier’s Home” is a sophisticated story of a variously wounded veteran’s return home. While “A Very Short Story” is a relatively explicit story of heartbreak, revealing biographical raw materials and the author’s anger, “Soldier’s Home” is a more refined and distanced treatment of Hemingway’s own experiences during and after the war. Later, these same experiences, more refined and distanced still, will find expression in perhaps the ultimate veteran’s story, “Big Two-Hearted River.”
The willingness to risk failure-as difficult as that can be-often leads us to remarkable discoveries about ourselves and our world. But on the other hand, not taking risks can save us from amounts of devastation and heartache. I think that was a major principle for Krebs in the short story, “Soldiers Home.”
After going to hell and back, it’s almost inevitable that anyone under the circumstances would be completely overwhelmed by all that Krebs had experienced and risked. He risked his life, and was then thrown back into a society that he had been absent from for years, and finds that its all the exact way that he had left it, except he says, “Nothing was changed in the town except that the young girls had grown up.”
In Krebs’s case, after returning from the war, he had become a completely different person. Distant, quiet, and depressed. He didn’t want to risk any complications. He didn’t want to risk any part of himself ever again. He didn’t want to work for what he wanted, he had worked hard enough and had been through a lifetime of disaster. All he wanted was to sit back and just live. Not enjoy life, not experience new and better things, he just wanted to live without any complications, and without taking any risks.
He mentions that he would like to have a girl, or more so wouldn’t mind. But he doesn’t want to work to get her or do anything drastic to get her attention. It would just all be too complicated. He wants no commitment, no strings attached. “He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live without consequences.
Besides, he did not really need a girl. The army had taught him that.” For Krebs, asking out a girl would be a risk and lead to complications whether good or bad. And taking that risk just wasn’t worth anything. Krebs was dead inside. Not intentionally, but subconsciously. He knew not what he was doing. He would now just walk through life with just the motions.
No feelings, no love, no sorrow, just living. “Don’t you love your mother, dear boy?” says his mother. “No, said Krebs, I don’t love anybody.” This was not a lie. He no longer loved anybody. And that was a risk he was willing to take. And that seems to not affect him at all. No risks, no complications. The war had been complicated enough in itself, for the world and to Krebs.
One of the tragic consequences of any war is that it demolishes the traditional values and drastically changes the perceptions of the world by those who have gone through its horrors. Coming back to normal life appears torture to such people since their vision of future existence runs counter to the standards of the peacetime.
While the civilian population seeks shelter from the harshness of the angry world in the safe harbor of family life, soldiers who come back from the war find themselves incompatible with the traditional pattern of life. Such a dramatic situation is described in Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Soldier’s Home”, where the character of Harold Krebs reveals itself as a tragic hero who is opposed to the traditional world represented in the characters of the average citizens.
To unfold the characterization of Harold Krebs in “Soldier’s Home”, Hemingway employs a whole range of means. For one thing, Krebs’ character opens up through his actions, thoughts, and reactions to the surrounding world. From the very beginning of the story, the reader faces a series of monotonous repetitions that reflect an objective, dull, almost mechanical state of Harold’s mind: multiple reiterations of phrases like “There is a picture…”, “He liked…”, “He did not want…”, “It was simply not worth it” reflects Harold’s emotional deadness and indifference caused by the terrors of the war (Hemingway 165–167).
War was not the only cause for Harold’s apathy: he was met with estrangement by his own community who wanted not the truth but the embellished tales that were far from the war reality. Revolted by the necessity to tell those lies, Harold rejects the reality which is false for him and creates his own existence opposite to the conventional routine: instead of finding a job and settling down with a girl, he sleeps, reads books, plays pool, and the clarinet. Thus he explicitly opposes himself to the society by means of his words and deeds.
For another thing, Harold’s surname is significant: Hemingway borrowed it from his friend married to a woman old enough to be his mother (Lynn 258). This fact signifies the importance placed on the dramatic conflict between Harold’s world-view and that of his mother’s. Hemingway launches this conflict to provide a deeper understanding of Harold’s incompatibility with his environment.
Setting off Harold’s lack of determination and definite life objectives, the foil character of his mother embodies all the traditional values: in trying to convince her son of the necessity for settling down and finding a job, Harold’s mother acts as a herald of conventional lifestyle that rather repulses than inspires Harold. Harold’s relaxed existence appears meaningless to his mother, who represents the traditional Protestant values of work and family, of everyone’s life subordinated to the eternal laws of the Kingdom of God.
The more painful and uncomfortable for Harold is his mother’s attempt to place him into that Kingdom, where he has actually never belonged (Hemingway 168). His repulsive reaction to his mother’s reproach, his disinterest, and blunt confession of no love for anybody discloses the abyss between him and the conventional society. To survive in it, Harold unwillingly gives up to its demands and says farewell to his dream of a smooth life uncomplicated by social conventions.
The tragedy of Harold’s character is that once he loses everything in the frightful experience of war, coming back home becomes senseless to him. He does not feel the wish to do it; yet, due to the apathy and weakness of his nature, he returns one year later — too late to be accepted as a hero.
Wrong time, wrong place — those are the adverse circumstances that ruin Harold’s vision of uncomplicated life. He becomes a piece of driftwood that floats according to the ways imposed by the traditional society which is too blind to see and accept his uniqueness.
“Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” explains the life of a soldier after his return from World War 1. Harold Krebs quickly discovers that his small hometown is no longer home. The war has changed him; he is confused about life and feels like he no longer fits in.
Krebs returned home much later than all the other soldiers, so he missed the welcome home celebration. “He had come back too late. The other soldiers of the town who had been drafted first had all been welcomed upon their return” (Hemingway 298). Immediately he feels left out and separated.
This passage also singles Krebs out in that his late return resulted from his choice to join the army. Enlisting was “atypical” to his small hometown (Lamb 21). The townspeople had already heard too many exciting stories to believe the true stories about the war.
At first, he does not want to talk about the war, but then he begins to lie about his war adventures. “Krebs found that to be listened to at all he had to lie,” (Hemingway 298). Krebs feels “nauseous” when he lies but thinks that he needs to so he will be appreciated for his bravery (Old 3). Harold thinks that he no longer fits in with his hometown, so he tells lies to feel like he is accepted again. World War 1 had brought major changes in the world, and they definitely changed Harold Krebs (Old 5).
“Nothing was changed in the town except the young girls had grown up.” (Hemingway 298). Harold would have like to have a girl but did want to have to work to get her. The army had basically brainwashed Krebs into thinking that there is no need for women; they only cause trouble. “It was all right to pose as though you had a girl. Nearly everybody did that. You did not need a girl… He had learned that in the army.”
As a young man coming back from the war, Krebs expected things to be the same when he got home and they were, except one. Sure the town looked older and all the girls had matured into beautiful women, Krebs had never expected that he would be the one to change. The horrific experiences of the first World War had alienated and removed those he had cared about, including his family, who stood naïve to the realities and consequences only those who live it first hand would comprehend.
The mere mention of the title leads to the main point of the story. Krebs had just returned after 2 years serving in one of the most deadly wars America has seen. Even his mother, despite her wanting him to talk about the war by asking questions, never really pays attention. As a result, he resorts to lying about his experience, forcing Krebs to isolate himself and oppose discussing what he had needed to discuss and get off his chest.
The war experience forces Krebs to question all the assumptions and beliefs that had previously guided his life. Having killed men in battle, Krebs sees no chance in reconciling his actions with God. He discusses the war and how carefree it was as if the soldiers had expected to live their life after the war not having to deal with the consequences and horrific memories of their actions. His faith had been stripped and morals lost. Krebs is quoted saying “I’m not in His Kingdom.”
Krebs’s lost faith is also apparent when he and his mother kneel down to pray but Krebs can’t and asks his mother to pray for both of them. The war had been hell and it seems as though Krebs was left there to face the consequences. I think this is one reason why he doesn’t “want any consequences” in his life anymore. Krebs has chosen to rid his life of all possible consequences he could face in the future.
This includes his choice to stay away from finding work, girls, and even loved ones. This distancing is seen further when Krebs tells his mother he doesn’t love her. Love in his mind leads to consequences and the army has taught him that you don’t need love, or look for a girl to marry.
This is an essay on the short story “Soldier’s Home” by Hemingway. Will the life of a soldier ever be the same after returning from war? Many generations of young adults have gone from their homes with tranquil settings to experience war and come home to a different world.
Many have witnessed the devastations and atrocities that occur with war. Harold Krebs, a young man from a small town with a loving family is no different from those before him and those to follow. The anguish of what war is however cannot dispel the thoughts and memories of what many young men come home to face in the real world. Many have trouble coping in the new world known as home.
Krebs learned to lie about his experiences and added details into them that most formal soldiers thought as common knowledge of a soldier; however, it was not easy for him. The small town in this story and society in general is the antagonist in this story for not welcoming him home as they had the other returning men. “Krebs found to be listened to at all he had to lie and after he had done this twice he too had a reaction against the war and against talking about it” (185), and withdrew from society more because of the distaste of war and the lies he had to tell.
The town folk thought of his stories as unimportant. Krebs withdrew from society. The front porch of the house where he grew up now became his solitude. Krebs withdrew into his own world, always reading or reminiscing about the enactments’ he was involved in Germany. Krebs’s world revolved around his memories, “he had been a good soldier” (187).
He struggled mentally to overcome his past life in the military and the haunting of society not welcoming him back, or so he thought. Krebs fought in his own mind the releasing of his enlistment world and that of the present world.
In Hemingway’s story we are introduced to Harold Krebs, a soldier who was returned from the war but after everyone else and the chaos has calmed down and everyone has settled into their life. Everyone has been able to do that but Krebs, is struggling to get on with his life but the experience of war has changed him. Seeing all the horrors of the war has changed Krebs as a person, he doesn’t know what to do with himself in his everyday life.
This is the conflict he faces as he tries to get on with his life post-war. The plot resolution in Soldier’s home is that Krebs’s conflicts within himself are not fully resolved at the end of the story. We are aware that it is going to be difficult for Krebs to go on with his life as he is still traumatized by the war. He says he will get a job, but he is just doing that mostly for his mother’s sake as she is worried about him.
Krebs feels as if he has to go away and he can’t stay with his family anymore, his family has pushed him away. Though, his family means well in their intentions they don’t fully understand what Krebs is going through. In the end, Krebs tries to solve his problems by getting wanting to get away.
We see by the conversation with his mother that he isn’t really in a religious place nor does he feel God as when he was told to pray by his mother he simply said he couldn’t. So to analyze Soldier’s Home’s resolution is basically that we see that Krebs” conflicts are not solved and ultimately it may take him a long while before he heals and finds God and also find himself.
In the short story called SOLDIER’S HOME, by Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway, the main character Krebs has just returned from World War One in Europe. This is the perennial story of the hero leaving on some quest, only to return home finding everything different. Therefore, identity conflict holds the key to this story. Hemingway shows us how the hero must move on as there apparently is no such thing as a soldier’s home.
Harold Krebs returns from World War I had lost everything. His home town immediately impresses its demand for conformity upon Harold’s arrival. The people of the town find it odd that he should return so much later than the other men, which begins to show the conflict between Harold and the views of the local community. Hemingway paints a dark picture of how society demands that all participants fall in line with mainstream ideals.
Why should Harold be so late in returning home? Why could he not be like the other men, and arrive with them? It is as if they believe he is out to make trouble. It lends to the idea that Hemingway himself was an outsider, and that he saw himself as an interloper in his rural home town.
Krebs arrives home too late for the heroes welcome, and instead finds a society interested only in lies not the realities of war. These lies are acceptable because they allow Krebs to fit neatly into society’s expectations of him and others.
In a so-called love-thy-neighbor, Christian, all-American environment there is no room for an individual like Krebs. As a matter of fact, many people have the opinion of America as a free country where there is room for versatility. However, I believe the fewest are aware of how our hidden double standards affect the society we live in, in America or any other country in the world.
The story takes place in an all-American Methodist community in Kansas. Hemingway might be accentuating the importance of religion in the Methodist community, by using a word such as apocryphal on page 1 line 31 (referring to Christianity) to explain what one might call urban legends familiar to all soldiers. Hemingway contrasts the setting through two pictures.
In one picture he describes Krebs and his fraternity brothers from a Methodist college as very uniform in their appearance. The other picture, however, illustrates a situation where Krebs is seen with another corporal and two German girls. The neatness of detail in the former picture is not present in this one.
Krebs and the other corporal seem like two young immature kids who are suddenly put in a severe and relentless war where they are forced to grow up way too fast. Nothing is right in the picture; the girls are not beautiful and the notable river is not even shown. The picture is wrong as war itself.
There is no indication of war-time romance. Hemingway works a lot with the environment physically and mentally, above and beneath the surface. A picture might be beautiful for the bare eye to see, but the characters contained in the picture might not necessarily be placed in a pleasant situation (and the other way around).
As Krebs returns to the flawless environment of Kansas in 1919, he experiences how his homecoming is far too late. Krebs enlisted but the men who had been drafted received all the glory because they came back before him. Krebs volunteered and served his country for a longer time than the other men, but there was a limit for how long time the community could celebrate the homecoming veterans for their patriotism and partisanship.
Krebs needed to be heard because of all the atrocities he had seen, but nobody wanted to listen. This is the part of the text where Hemingway is implicating Krebs’s inner devotion for killing; “the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally”.
These lines are particularly relevant because they point at Krebs’s inner emotions; or rather lack thereof. Krebs has become a fighter; a killer. However, these qualities do not fit into his hometown in Kansas. The narrator does not communicate Krebs’s inner feelings to the reader. In this way, the narrator alludes to us as readers are not in Krebs’s confidence; as is nobody.
When the mother confronts him at gunpoint, he cannot communicate at all, because of them not being on the same wavelength. And the mere fact that she mentions Charlie Simmons as someone who is settling in and becoming a credit to the community, she is setting the standards of what is considered normal, implying that Krebs does not meet these standards. At a loss for words, he can only watch the bacon fat hardening on his plate.
Hemingway emphasizes this by giving this line its own paragraph. On top of that, the mother claims to know what goes on in a soldier’s mind by saying: “I know the temptations you must have been exposed to… I know what your own dear grandfather, my own father, told us about the Civil War…” on page 5 line 17-20. He cannot find comfort in a society based on the values of his mother and father, only his unspoiled little sister can he communicate with, without being met by demands of civilization.
Therefore Krebs has to move on. The timeless significance of this story shows us how we do not, or cannot, make room for our returning heroes. This continuing problem is also seen in other literature such as The Lord of the Rings where Frodo Baggins finds no rest upon returning to The Shire after having saved Middle-earth but must continue to the Grey Havens. Whether Krebs finds peace in Kansas City, or whether he has to continue on an endless journey in the search for peace of mind, it’s hard to tell. But this is the question Hemingway leaves us to work out for ourselves.
As you already know, war and its affects are major themes in Hemingway’s writings. In the introduction, I mentioned that Hemingway was wounded in battle. When he returned home, he could not adjust to situations in the United States. In a sense, he was alone and frightened by new surroundings. In the short story Soldier’s Home, we see a slight comparison to the feelings of Hemingway returning home from war. (Hemingway coming home from Italy) The story Soldier’s Home is about a man named Krebs, the protagonist, who returns home from battle in Germany.
But his return was not greeted; he came home much too late. Hemingway sets the tone of the story by suggesting that the town though, it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late, years after the war was over. Here Hemingway starts to develop the overall tone of the story; desolation, driven by the traumas of war. Krebs wants some sort of attention, but the town responds by paying no attention.
This is shown when Hemingway writes about Krebs wanting to talk about the war “Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities. As the story continues, Hemingway takes a turn and tries to relate Krebs with women. Krebs sits on the porch of his family’s house and watches girls walk by.
But, even though he wants a girl, he can’t approach one. Hemingway describes that Krebs does not want to get into the intrigue and the politics of getting a girl. I think Hemingway shows that Krebs is suffering from post-war affects when he writes, He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences.
Besides he did not really need a girl. After experiencing the consequences of war, Krebs needs simple and comfortable situations to rest his mind, no complications. Hemingway goes on to explain how Krebs prefers French and German girls, rather than American.
Example #11 – interesting ideas
I need a question I can do a research paper on.. I’d like it to be about child soldiers and sierra leone or Uganda since they’re often at the center of the child soldier discussion… of course a good question like “Who’s most to blame for the use of child soldiers in Sierra Leone?”
Children used as soldiers worldwide in insurgencies & civil wars; in Asian countries like Cambodia, Myarma, Sri Lanka, in many African countries as well as Latin America. Why limit the discussion to Sierra Leone & Uganda?
Most Americans do not realize that our country did not support the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldier until recently. In Gitmo, our government treats child soldiers as terrorists instead of victims. Many have spent their formative teenage years at Gitmo, & are presently adults. They have spent more than 1/2 of their lives at Gitmo.
Seems like we could have tried earlier to rehabilitate them or repatriate them to their home countries which are our allies, like Canada or Great Britain. As to your request for a question, how about this: How can the US lead the world in stopping the use or involvement of children in warfare.
I’m currently writing an essay on this short story for my lit class. I’ll tell you what I have so far. My analysis and soon to be an essay (exploring Krebs charactorial attributes and their relation to the overall theme) is similar to yours but I am honing in on a slightly different theme of “social dysfunction” only because it is a slightly broader overall theme that not only encompasses Krebs but other secondary characters like his mother(their conversation at the table as an example), his father(not socially functional with Krebs-his father speaks through his wife, Krebs’ mother – as if to suggest that he might not have the time or patience that is required to maintain a social relationship with his son).
Using “Alienation” might require more detailed explanations of how it ties into certain parts of the story. As the conversation between Krebs and his mother at the table, “social dysfunction” just works better. “Alienation” is boring and stale, everyone that I’ve talked to about this story used that term to discuss the theme.
“Social dysfunction” would be a fresh approach that would be appreciated by people who look up this story later and only see alienation or disillusionment as a theme. It is nearly self-explanatory requiring little if any additional support for conversations’ sake – though you could easily expand this into a classroom discussion, it easily relates to every part of the story.
Throughout the story, Krebs is a battle over the importance of adhering to social norms. It appears his inability to function socially creates an inner turmoil that he would prefer to adapt to rather than having to change to suit society’s standards. A preliminary evaluation of the story has lead me to believe that Krebs, as a result of his military experiences, has developed a certain amount of social anxiety.
Krebs argues that he doesn’t really need a girl and that if he were “really ripe” for a girl then would just happen without having to put in any amount of effort. This is just one of many examples in Soldiers Home that shows how Krebs’ character and motives influence his actions and his justifications for those actions. To answer your questions…yes, discuss the relationships that he has(as it relates to your theme whether it be alienation or social dysfunction, also the tone of the characters, check out some other literary techniques and see if you can pick out examples from the story to point out to others).
What else should the reader have taken from the story? well, it’s open-ended, there is no right answer. I’ll tell you what I get from it: “life changes, adapt and overcome”. I’ve read a lot of online forums about this story but I haven’t yet seen anyone talk about this story as it might relate to Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey. Odysseus was trying to return home from the Trojan war and had trials and obstacles thrown in his way. Does Krebs not have his own obstacles?
They are psychological, religious, psychosocial, even emotional maybe? Odysseus even gets back to his home country, Ithica, but doesn’t recognize it when he gets there(disorientation)! Krebs knows he’s in his hometown but he doesn’t feel the same way does he? Refer back to the title at this point, is this really his home now? Where is his heart? Does he long to be back in France? Did he feel at home there? Did his comrades in arms take the place of his family? They must have been like family after going through these battles. Anyway- Things at home have definitely changed, girls and their skirts, they are all grown up, etc. Odysseus also tells lies (a pack of them about his life story), – to a pig farmer in the Oddysey(Eumaeus).
Lies were a big part of Soldiers’ homes. If you intend to use Homer’s stories to relate it to Krebs, brush up on them for about 2 minutes apiece. Both stories have to do with soldiers and their strife, problems, emotions, changing religious feelings (Homer’s characters curse the gods – Krebs tells his mother that he can’t pray anymore – did he feel betrayed by God? The places listed in Soldiers Home: Belleau Wood, Soissons, etc. were places where nasty, nasty battles took place. Point out that they were Trench Warfare, bloody battles World War One, Mustard Gas type stuff.
Give your class a feeling of how nasty it was fighting over there in those conditions. Thousands upon thousands died in these battles. That carries a lot of psychological baggage with it. A few links below that give a lot more than what I have written here.
Check out wikipedia.com info on these battles or type “Belleau Wood summary” in a search engine to get a brief account of what happened there. Damn, I didn’t plan to write this much – got carried away. Good luck with your class. Let me know if you want more about Homer’s stories as it relates to Krebs.
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