Harold Krebs Return Home From World War essay example

1,278 words
In 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 probably groomed to be full of familial values and to be strong in his faith. Now after his return, his entire instilled value system was thrown completely off course by being witness to and involved in the severe atrocities of war. This is why he could not love anymore; the mere thought of it nauseated him. He could not assimilate back into living a regular life with the thoughts of regular men. In seeing so much that should be out of the ordinary, he never wanted to deal with common human issues again, not to mention consequences.

Krebs relationship with his sister is probably his best with anyone in the house. This is most likely due to the fact that she is around 11 years old and is infatuated with her older brother. When she talks about telling her friends where she learned to pitch a ball, she says "I tell them all you " re my beau. Aren't you my beau, Hare?" (139). This type of talk does not bother Krebs in this situation, unlike the girls whom he refuses to talk to in his town.

His sister is pre-pubescent, so she has unlikely developed the body of a woman and also, she shows improbable signs of having sexual urges by asking him if she is his girl and if he will "love [her] always" (140). By observing the problems Krebs has with his own family members after the war, one can understand why his problems communicating in the outside world, with strangers, exists. While living at home and re-adjusting to what had been his old life, Krebs could not even interact with other people, specifically the girls, that lived in his town; never mind having a conversation with someone about the war. He did like girls and "liked to look at them from the front porch as they walked on the other side of the street" (138), but he could not get himself to talk to any of them, never mind to "do any courting" (138). He did see himself with a girl at some point, but he did not want to deal with any of them and he "didn't want to tell anymore lies" (138), which further proves that he had issues with communication after the war. He couldn't even tell girls the truth if he were to talk with them, and would have to lie, which was something that required his work, so he wanted nothing to do with them.

His feelings about lying did not just hinder his relationships with the opposite sex, but inevitably when he was ready to talk about the war, had distaste in doing so. This was due to the fact that by the time Krebs returned home, the people in his town had heard their fill of war stories from soldiers that had already returned, who in attempts to keep listeners attention had fabricated most of their stories. Krebs realized that "to be listened to at all he had to lie" (137), which bothered him so much that he had to retort against the war itself and talking about it; "All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself... the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally... now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves" (137). This further proves that Krebs was indeed "a good soldier", because having played a part in crucial battles of the war, he became disgusted that nobody wanted to hear his actualities, but only glamorized accounts of "German women found chained to machine guns in the Argonne forest" (137), which 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.

Therefore, even though 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.