Soldier’s Home by Ernest HemingwayIn Soldier’s Home, Ernest Hemingway depicts Harold Krebs return home from World War I and the problems he faces when dealing with his homecoming and transition back towards a normal life. After the fighting overseas commenced, it took Krebs a year to finally leave Europe and return to his family in Oklahoma. Once home, he found it hard to talk about all he had seen in his tour of duty overseas, which should be attributed to the fact that he saw action in some of the bloodiest, most crucial battles towards the culmination of the war. Therefore, Krebs difficulty in acknowledging his past is because he was indeed a “good soldier” (139), whose efforts in order to survive “The Great War,” were not recognized by his country, town and even worse, his own family.
After his late return from the war, Krebs moved back to the home of his family in Oklahoma. Although this seems common to what most soldiers would do after war, Krebs stay away from his family had been an elongated one. This is not just because of his leisure time at the Rhine with German prostitutes after the war had ended, but also because he went to the war direct from a “Methodist College in Kansas” (136). With that information, we can deduce that Krebs had not lived with his family for more than two years, but most likely between four and six. This must have put a serious strain on his relationship with his family members, who in his own mind, obviously lived in a different world than he did. Before the war, his father did not even trust him with responsibility of taking out the family car. Now, on his return, his “father was noncommittal” and basically absent from his life, not to mention he is never actually present at any time in the story. The only time Krebs father is brought up in conversation, is by Krebs mother when she tells him that they both had discussed Krebs being able to take out the family car. Even when his mother reveals that it had been his father’s idea, Krebs replied “I’ll bet you made him” (139). This statement is a clear hint into the way Krebs truly feels about his father, whom he seems to have no faith in. Krebs relationship with his mother is not much better, when she asked if he loved her, he quickly responded “No”(140), which sent her to tears. This was probably not always the truth, Krebs having been raised in the South, was once …
…hich they had already heard from other returned soldiers. However, the clearest view into Krebs true feelings of how it had been to be a soldier, is “when he occasionally met another man who had really been a soldier and they talked a few minutes in the dressing room at a dance he fell into the easy pose of the old soldier among other soldiers: that he had been badly, sickeningly frightened all the time” (137). This shows that even when he could be comfortable, in the presence of another real soldier, the only thing that came back to either of them was the raw fear for their survival.
Although Krebs had served in some of the turning point and final battles of the war, which had made him think of himself as a “good soldier,” the true image and feelings of a soldier at war were not always brave and confident, but merely frightened all the time; “In this way he lost everything”(137). He lost any feeling of personal accomplishment that had surfaced with his return from service; all he could feel was fear and that disgusted him.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home”, from Ernest Hemingway: The Short Stories. (New York, NY : Scribner Paperback Fiction Edition) 2005.