Patterns of Life in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Soldier’s Home”Is there a pattern for life? Maybe not, but in Ernest Hemingway’s short story “A Soldier’s Home”, the main character Harold Krebs finds that he needs to live his life through a series of patterns. In this story, the series of patterns associated to Krebs results in an explanation of his character’s desire for an uncomplicated life. The series of patterns can be found through Krebs’s involvement in college, the Marines, and even in his personal relationships.
For Krebs, the pattern of a fraternity lends itself to a uniformity that leaves everyone the same. This sameness is uncomplicated for Krebs. For example, the photograph shows “all of them wearing exactly the same height and style collar” allowing Krebs to blend into the group. Instead of becoming an individual, Krebs is influenced by his fraternity brothers. This uniformity does not allow Krebs to make decisions as an individual. Even so, Krebs does leave the fraternity to join the war in 1917. While the story does not tell the reason of Krebs’ delay, it can be assumed by the reader that his attachment to the brotherhood influenced his stay in the fraternity. Yet, even in the war Krebs finds another source for his pattern of life.
The pattern of the Marines allows Krebs to conform to the life of a soldier. However, the pattern of a soldier is not like that of his fraternity brothers. Even though both Krebs and the corporal “look too big in their uniforms”, they are strangely out of place. There is nothing beautiful about their sameness. For Krebs, the war is not beautiful because it is filled with death; yet, there is a sense of regularity in the role of a soldier. During…
…t he would leave and get a job like other young men. However, the ultimate goal is not to succeed in life. Instead, Krebs just wants “his life to go smoothly”.
In his story, Hemingway does not tell the reader why Krebs is insistent on a smooth uncomplicated life. Yet, the idea of an easy life is one that is universal but unobtainable. Is it so strange that one man would try to achieve such a life? No, but the sacrifice for such a life is not worth the effort. In his fight for a smooth life, Krebs gives up his emotions to make sure that “none of it had touched him”. His emotions of a fraternity brother joined him with a group; as a soldier, he preformed under a role. As a young man at home, he finds no pattern to steer him towards an uncomplicated life. In order to achieve the pattern, he shuts himself down from everybody, including himself.