Time to Move On
In Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home,” Harold Krebs battles internal conflict that affects his personal and social life. As a young man coming back from the war, Krebs expects things to be the same when he got home and they were. Sure the town looks older and all the girls have matured into beautiful woman, Krebs never expects that he would be the one to change. He is alienates himself from his family, society, and fellow soldiers. Krebs knows he does not belong in Oklahoma. The question remains: where is a soldier’s real home?
Initially, World War I traumatizes and changes Harold Krebs. As a soldier, he is forced to kill men and see with his own eyes the horror of war. Upon returning he “[does] not want to talk about the war at all” (117). Everything that happens to Krebs is internalized. The pressure of the war, the things he sees, and the atmosphere of the town builds up inside of him. Like a shaken soda can, Krebs is ready to burst.
Next, the experience Krebs goes through affects his relations with the people of his home town. While Krebs has been scarred emotionally and mentally, society is left unscathed. Everyone, including his mother, stresses that he should follow humanity’s carefully laid-out plan. She tells him about how “Charley Simmons, who is just [his] age, has a job and is going to be married” (121). However, Krebs is not ready to settle down, get a woman, or find a job. The burden of keeping everything bottled up slowly seeps out of Krebs and like a magnet repels everyone away.
Finally, the tension amounts to too much for Krebs to handle, and bursts forth, hurting his relations. Krebs also adds lies and exaggerates his already horrific war stories. In this manner, he fends off any and all fellow soldiers and listeners. With no place to release his stress, he lashes out at his own mother. Krebs tells his mother that he does not love her and he even says “he doesn’t love anybody” (122). Krebs is left unable to cope with...
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