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Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway's short story "Soldier's Home" examines the way in which World War I has fundamentally remade one soldier, entirely changing his sense not only of who he is but also of the nature of the world. A simple diagnosis of the protagonist, Harold Krebs, would that he has been disillusioned: When people in his home town come to him and ask him for stories about the glories of fighting and war he simply cannot imagine what to say to them, because his experiences have shown him that there can never be any real glory in killing other young men. But the change in Krebs is more fundamental than simple disillusionment: He has in fact been made in some important way less than completely human by his experiences. He no longer wants - and indeed is no longer capable of - connecting in an authentic way with any other individual.

The degree to which Krebs has himself changed is magnified by the small town that has always been his home, a town small enough that nothing (at least to Krebs) ever seems to change. The very sameness of the details of life in the soldier's home disorient him: He finds that he cannot make sense of a world in which the women walking down the street appear to be (but in fact are not) the exact same women with whom he went to school, or a world in which his father parks his car in exactly the same place. Krebs's experiences in the war have so altered his own understanding of the world, have made him so acutely aware of the ways in which chaos lies always just beneath the surface of civilization, that he can barely stand to be with people who have not been so transformed by the crucible of violence.

His mother offers him the last chance that he has to come home again by trying first to get him to find a job and then to resurrect the love that they had for each other when he was growing up and she could still protect him. But - while he tells her that he loves her, perhaps because he pities her, perhaps becau...

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Ernest Hemingway. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:54, May 31, 2020, from