There are two words most often heard when discussing the aftermath of World War I: shell-shock and isolation. Devastating injuries, high body counts, and lack of communication with loved ones left US soldiers feeling as if they were all alone. Ernest Hemingway draws on this and many of his personal experiences in his short story to convey the hardships that soldiers returning from war endure in “Soldier’s Home”. In the unfortunate tale of Harold Krebs, a young man returns home from WWI only to be thrown into an environment almost as oppressing as the one he was just in. For Harold alienation is a sad reality he can’t seem to escape. His involvement in the war drastically changes how Harold interacts with his family and society as a whole.No one cared anymore. That was the first reality that Harold faced when he finally returned home:
By the time Krebs returned to his hometown in Oklahoma the greeting of heroes was over. He came back much too late. The men from the town who had been drafted had all been welcomed elaborately on their return. There had been a great deal of hysteria. Now the reaction had set in. People seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late, years after the war was over. (1)
To make matters worse, Harold wasn’t a common soldier. He had fought in some of the bloodiest and most horrifying battles of the war. Literary critic Charles Oliver even claims, “Krebs had fought at Belleau Wood, Soissons, Champagne, Saint-Mihiel, and in the Argonne Forest, all important battles in the war, involving serious American losses. Fighting in any one of those battles would be enough to traumatize a young U.S. Marine, but he had fought in all five.” If anyone deserved a hero’s welcome, it w…
…at developed in early childhood. All in all, Hemingway was a literary genius who’s unique experiences gave way for some of the greatest non-fiction stories of the 20th century.Works Cited
Becnel, Kim. “Soldier’s Home.” Bloom’s How to Write about Ernest Hemingway. Bloom’s Literature.
Bernardo, Karen. “An Analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Soldier’s Home.'”Storybites.
“Ernest Hemingway FAQ: Themes.” Timeless Hemingway.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Scribner’s, 1987. Print.
Oliver, Charles. “‘Soldier’s Home.'” Critical Companion to Ernest Hemingway: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion.
Tyler, Lisa. Student Companion to Ernest Hemingway. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001. Print.
Werlock, Abby. “Soldier’s Home.” Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story 2 (1925): Bloom’s Literature.