Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” is a story of a soldier... from World War I as a transformed person. The story...

Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” is a story of a soldier who returns home
from World War I as a transformed person. The story depicts his inability to fit back in to
the society. Krebs is at home but he doesn’t feel at home. He is with family but he
doesn’t feel he belongs there. To maintain his existence he has to choose isolation. Krebs
ignores reality around him by detaching himself from social relations, love and ambition.
Krebs lost his romanticism during the war. Presumably, the scenes he had
encountered in World War I, such as at the battle of Belleau Wood, Soissons, and in the
Argonne (l21-122) and the things he had done during those battles traumatized him so
that he loses his emotion. After returning home he spends a lot of time watching the girls.
Even though he likes watching girls, he avoids any relationship with them because “the
world they were in was not like the world he was in.” (123). Before he went to war,
“vaguely he wanted a girl but did not want to have to work to get her.” (123).He was a
sociable person who used to have interest in love affair. Now that he is home, he is not
interested in a love life. He doesn’t want to communicate with people, especially with
girls, although “he would have liked a girl if she had come to him and wanted to talk.”
(123). He wants to stay away from people and not “go through all the talking” (123).
Without communicating with people no relationship can survive. He is afraid that social
relationships might provoke a conflict with his value of honesty.
For maintain his
honesty, he has to stay away from the complication of any relationship. His denial of
social relationships makes him an outcast and a total misfit for the society.
After coming from war he spends much of his time waking up late, reading books,
playing pool, walking around and watching girls across the street (122-123). A soldier
needs strong commitment and devotion to his work. But somehow he doesn’t have any
interest in these qualities any more. Moreover, he doesn’t have any future plan which
makes his parents worry about him. Over breakfast his mother asks about his plans, and
whether it is about time he finds a job. (125). When she finds out the truth, she tries to
create tremendous pressure upon him to drag him back in to the society. By telling other
peoples’ stories she tries to convince him: “ ‘The boys are all settling down; they’re all
determined to get somewhere, you can see the boys like Charley Simmons are on their
way to being a really a credit to this community’ ” (125). Krebs’ mother’s intention is to
motivate him for a bright future. Krebs’ parents think if he finds a job, he would be able
to get over with his frustration and nightmare. That would be helpful for him to move on
with his life. Unfortunately, Krebs doesn’t think that way. He loses his passion regarding
ambition and motivation.
Harold Krebs returns from the war with an inability to love and a disbelief
towards religion. Before he went away to war, he was a sociable person who respected
familial relationship and religion. Now that he is back he doesn’t care about those values
anymore. Therefore, Harold doesn’t have much of a relationship with his father. Harold’s
mother is the communicator between father and son. Even though his father indicates
neither consent nor dissent regarding war, he loves his son. Before Harold went away to
war he wasn’t allowed to drive the family car. But now the situation has changed.
Harold’s mother says, “‘your father doesn’t want to hamper your freedom. He thinks you
should be allowed to drive the car. If you want to take some of the nice girls out riding
with you, we are only too pleased. We want you to enjoy yourself.’ ” (125). By saying
this Harold’s mother tries to show his fathers’ affection toward him but Krebs no longer
can return these kind of affection. His father wants him to “stop” by and “see him at his
office.” (125). But he decides he “would not go down to his fathers office.” (126). He
shows disrespect by doing this because he doesn’t care about him anymore. Once, he was
affectionate to his sister. He had spent some good time with her. Krebs sister never forgot
those memories when he taught her how to pitch in a baseball game. After coming from
war when Krebs’ sister asks him: “‘will you love me always?’ ”, he replies, “‘Sure.’”
(124). He can not even say the simple words that he will always love her because he is
confused about his feelings. Over the breakfast when Harold’s mother was asking him,
“‘don’t you love your mother, dear boy?’ ” (125). Harold can not help but tell the truth.
He acclaims “‘No…I don’t love anybody.’ ” (125). He manages to hide his feelings in
relation to love until then. Harold not only lost his ability to love but also faith in religion.
Before going away to war Harold was in Methodist school which demonstrates his values
about religion. (121) Now religion does not touch him anymore. When his mother tries to
convince him to start over, she says: “‘God has some work for everyone to do… There
can be no idle hands in his kingdom.’ ” Harold replies, “‘I am not in his kingdom.’ ”
(125). By saying that he emphasizes his belief that he doesn’t belong in Gods world.
Thus, he doesn’t have faith in religion.
Harold Krebs lives in isolation, tries to avoid any kind of human contact and
exhibits a complete denial about relationships. Even though he is wrestling with himself
inside over his existence, he can’t fit back in the society. By planning to escape from
there, he shows that he is a misfit:
He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated. Still none of it had
touched him. He had felt sorry for his mother and she had made him
lie…He wanted his life to go smoothly. It had just gotten going that
way…that was all over now. (126)
He understands if he stays with his family he has to undergo an intense pressure everyday
to merge with the society. So he decides to go to Kansas City where no one is going to
bully him for confronting the norms of the society. He can be free from a complicated
Work Cited:
Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed.
Michael Meyer. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford St. Martins, 1990. 121-126.