Life Changing Events Ernest Hemingway in “ Soldier’s Home” represents the life of Harold Krebs as an example of the effects on people and communities as well as a country as a whole caused by wars. There appears to be a blatant lack of respect for the main character from family and friends. This lack of respect is shown through the author’s discussion of a lack of empathy, confidence, and lack of placement. Hemingway shows the reader a view of the returning soldier from war and his clear displacement from “home. ”
The lack of empathy is portrayed as Krebs returns from war to see that his hometown’s excitement for the returning soldiers had ended. Hemingway does not divulge why Harold returned home so much later than the other men. People thought Krebs ridiculous for returning home years after the war ended (Para. 3) Krebs along with his family come from a religious background, show Kreb no compassion for the inner struggles he is dealing with. Kreb’s mother if sent off to kill humans may have the same feelings of displacement and confusion.
His mother often came in to his room asking about the war, but her attention always wondered (Para. 7). His family chooses to ignore the pain of their son, a hero, that has been in situations they could not possibly understand. Krebs is distancing himself from everyone and needs emotional support. Krebs felt his experiences at war simple even boring at times diminishing his confidence. Trying to boost his ego he lies about some experiences at war. Instead of enhancing his confidence, his lies were doing more harm to him. The lies led him feeling nausea (Para. ). Krebs lack of confidence may result from a poor relationship with his father. His father was non-committal (Para. 8). A young man being sent off to war, maybe wanting to please his father, Krebs may have been looking for respect from his father. Throughout the short story Kreb never has a conversation with his father. Kreb avoids going to his fathers office (Para. 95). Krebs being a strong man realizes he has to conform, he wants his life to go smoothly. Hemingway makes it seem as if the main character exists in two different worlds.
There seem to be a pre-war world that exist independent from the post-war. Prior to leaving for war, Krebs lived a normal socialite life in college as a brother in a fraternity. He went to a Methodist college. Krebs enlisted in the marines to help his country. When first returning home he does not want to talk about the war, maybe he missed it. I believe that he was thinking about how much easier things were over in Europe. In Europe he did not deal with girls “that lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds” After returning home he was distant.
Religion was just another meaningless word to Krebs and his love for his family had subsided along with his respect for the opposite sex. He would have liked woman to come to him and not talk (Para. 14). To please his family and his desire to have no complications he distances himself by moving away to find a job and start a new life. From just reading the title my first impression is that this story will be about an older soldier living out the remainder after he had served his country. But to find out that the story has nothing to do with the an older soldier; rather, it tells the story of a young man, Harold Krebs.
He faces dilemmas with the people around him, emotionally he feels lost and rejected. There is a lack of respect towards a man that has returned from war, his family does not have compassion towards the things he has dealt with being away at war. The towns reaction to his return pulls down his confidence to make him not feel home. Despite the fact that his parents’ comfortable, middle-class lifestyle used to feel like home to Krebs, it no longer does. Krebs is not home; he has no home at all.