war and its affects are major themes in Hemingway's writings. In the introduction I mentioned that Hemingway was wounded in battle. When he returned home, he could not adjust to situations in the United States. In a sense, he was alone and frightened by new surroundings. In the short story Soldier's Home, we see a slight comparison to the feelings of Hemingway returning home from war. (Hemingway coming home from Italy) The story Soldier's Home is about a man named Krebs, the protagonist, who returns home from battle in Germany.
But his return was not greeted; he came home much too late. Hemingway sets the tone of the story by suggesting that the town thought, it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late, years after the war was over. Here Hemingway starts to develop the overall tone of the story; desolation, driven by the traumas of war. Krebs wants some sort of attention, but the town responds by paying no attention. This is shown when Hemingway writes about Krebs wanting to talk about the war-Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities.
As the story continues, Hemingway takes a turn and tries to relate Krebs with women. Krebs sits on the porch of his family's house and watches girls walk by. But, even though he wants a girl, he can't approach one. Hemingway describes that Krebs does not want to get into the intrigue and the politics of getting a girl. I think Hemingway shows that Krebs is suffering from post-war affects when he writes, He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again.
He wanted to live along without consequences. Besides he did not really need a girl. After experiencing the consequences of war, Krebs needs simple and comfortable situations to rest his mind, not complications. Hemingway goes on to explain how Krebs prefers French and German girls, rather than American. This could describe how Krebs is familiar with the life of war and not knowing how to cope with this unfamiliar life of peace, again. (Ruins in Germany) Hemingway ends the story in a very powerful way.
Krebs' mother talks to him about getting his life started again; getting a job, etc. She exclaims, God has some work for everyone to do, there can be no idle hands in His Kingdom. She continues on by giving him a lecture. Then, she asks him to pray with her, but Krebs says that he can not. I believe this is an example of Krebs giving up on God.
The horrors and traumas of war drove him to disbelief. I believe Hemingway wants the reader to feel for Krebs. The expectations I had while reading were not satisfied. Krebs stayed distant from his family and offered no signs of help. I was hoping that there would be a moment of realization. A moment where Krebs thought he needed help from outside factors other than himself.
But, there was no such moment. Hemingway does this purposely to show the reader that there are no easy ways to end these strong feelings of desolation. I think Hemingway uses the Iceberg Theory again by making the reader discern what is important about Krebs and why he is so distant from others. Hemingway does a great job in showing an affect of war not widely thought about.
The short story Soldier's Home, portrays a lost man within a familiar home town.