A Soldier’s Home Analysis

A Soldier’s Home Analysis
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Much of Ernest Hemingway’s fiction concerns the effect that war has on soldiers and their families.  Unlike many of his predecessors, Hemingway did not see war as a heroic effort.  This view may have resulted from his involvement in World War I and the Spanish Civil War.  In his collection of short stories In Our Time, Hemingway explores the depths to which war psychologically affects the soldier and his family.  One story from this collection, “Soldier’s Home,” examines the difficulty a soldier encounters when trying to reintegrate into daily American life after being involved in a war.  In “Soldier’s Home,” Hemingway explores this theme by using imagery to illustrate the alienation the protagonist, Krebs, feels upon his return from World War I.

            The first image that the narrator presents that emphasizes the alienation that Krebs feels upon returning from war relates to women.   While walking around his town, Krebs notices “so many good-looking young girls. Most of them had their hair cut short. When he went away only little girls wore their hair like that or girls that were fast” (Hemingway).  Krebs is accustomed to the girls he met during the war, most of whom were prostitutes.  When he returns to America, he is unable to relate to normal women.  Noticing the new hairstyles, all he can remember is that promiscuous girls wore their hair short before he left for the war.  He imposes the identity of the girls he met in the war with the girls in his hometown.  Because he is unable to escape the view of women that he receives in the war, he is unable to connect with girls in his hometown.

            The next image of Krebs is repeated throughout the story.  Krebs spends much of his time after he returns from the war sitting on his parents’ front porch.  He sits upon the porch alone “reading a book” (Hemingway).  The image emphasizes the isolation that Krebs feels.  He cannot interact with any of his friends from before the war because they cannot understand the horrors he has experienced.  He only speaks to other veterans, but even these interactions are not meaningful.  Krebs would rather be left alone upon the porch to stare out at a world with which he no longer feels any connection.

            The final image of Krebs is an image of isolation in the midst of others.  Krebs is sitting at the dinner table with his mother, but he might as well be dining alone.  She wants him to pray with her, but he no longer believes in religion.  After witnessing the deaths of hundreds of soldiers and citizens, Krebs does not consider himself part of “His Kingdom” (Hemingway).  During the conversation, Krebs watches “the bacon fat hardening on his plate” (Hemingway).  Despite the fact that his mother is there with him, Krebs is alone.  He is lost in his own mind, and he realizes that his mother cannot understand.  For Krebs, there is no one who can understand him in the world outside of war.

            The images in “Soldier’s Home” are all snapshots of a man alone in a crowd after returning from war.  Krebs circulates among the girls in his hometown but does not speak to them.  His mother talks to him, but he has no response to her.  The imagery of the story revolves around Krebs and his alienation and disconnection from his world.  In the wake of the war, everything about civilian life seems dull.

   Work Cited:

Hemingway, Ernest. “Ernest Hemingway: Soldier’s Home.” Strong brain Homepage. Strong-brain.com. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <http://www.strong-brain.com/Reading/Texts/hemingway-soldiers-home>.