“Soldier’s Home”: Discussion
The “Soldier’s Home,” in the title of this 1925 story, is not a retirement home for aged veterans but the childhood home of a former marine, Harold Krebs, who fought in World War 1 and has now returned to his mother’s house in a small Oklahoma town. The story opens with the third person narrator directing our attention to aspects of Harold’s life before he went to war, showing us a picture of him with his fraternity brothers at Methodist College Harold had attended. It is the story in which Harold Krebs, a U.S. Marine who fought in World War 1, returns to be alone, and to face the lies that he and others had uttered about the war.
As Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” opens the protagonist, Harold Krebs, has just come back from World War 1. All the other young men his age have settled back into small-town life niche for themselves as contributing members of the community. But Harold, for some reason, cannot do this; instead, he plays pool, practices his clarinet, strolls down town, reads and goes to bed. Harold Krebs is the main character and the story opens the experiences he had in his past. He returns home with mental baggage, the horror of war and is unable to continue on with his life. At that time there was no mental treatment for that. He sees that the whole town has moved on and he has lost his emotional connection to the culture he has been separated from.
There are three main movements in this story, told in Hemingway’s sparse dialogue. The first consist of narrations of Krebs’ mixed feelings of both repulsion from the war and his romantic feeling of purpose and companionship in it, and the towns people’s lack of gratitude for or interest in his experiences. By the time Krebs returned nobody was interested in his heroic stories. Because he came back too late and the soldiers that came back before him already told their stories. The people in the town thought it was ridiculous for him to return late since the war was...