The adjustment from years on the frontlines of World War I to the mundane everyday life of a small Oklahoma town can be difficult. Ernest Hemingway’s character Harold Krebs, has a harder time adjusting to home life than most soldiers that had returned home. Krebs returned years after the war was over and was expected to conform back into societies expectations with little time to adapt back to a life not surrounded by war. Women take a prominent role in Krebs’s life and have strong influences on him. In the short story “Soldier’s Home” Hemingway uses the women Krebs interacts with to show Krebs internal struggle of attraction and repulsion to conformity.When Krebs was in the army, he had a defined identity as a soldier and when he returns home Krebs’s reluctance to take the defined identity of the everyday joe shmoe that is awaiting him. Krebs difficulty to involve himself with the girls in his hometown reflects his refusal to conform to society’s expectation of him. Krebs associates his hometown girls as death to his individualism. All the girls in Krebs hometown look alike with their “round Dutch collars above their sweaters… their silk stockings and flat shoes,” (Hemingway; 49) and “their bobbed hair and the way they walked” (49). The strict uniformity of the girls that Krebs observes can be interpreted to resemble the uniformity of soldiers. Hemingway utilizes diction to illustrate Krebs’s opinion on the army’s forced conformity; “but they lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it” (49). In context of war, “alliances” is a word used between countries and in World War I it meant The Allies. Krebs using word “alliances…
…She does not act like the other girls, most of the time yet, she does want Krebs to fit into to a role — her beau — and fulfil obligations — going to her indoor baseball game. Those two attributes together cause Krebs to be fonder of his sister than anyone else and at the same time push her away. Krebs even pushes away his mother because she tries to diligently to convince him to conform. Thus causing Krebs’s to say he does not love her, the ultimate form of rejection a child can do to a parent. Due to guilt Krebs does agree to conform but struggles with his decision. Ernest Hemingway’s character Harold Krebs tries to reject conforming to society but in the end he realizes that he can not escape it and grapple with reality.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home.” Hemingway on War. Ed. Se?an A. Hemingway. New York:Scribner, 2003. N. pag. Print.