A Soldier’s Home Summary

A Soldier’s Home Summary
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     For a soldier, the waterfront is the home away from home. The main theme of the story is alienation which must be understood in tandem with social dysfunction. The outcome of these two aspects in the life of a soldier is disillusionment.

     The author depicts the state of mind of a sensitive soldier like Krebs. He recalls the experiences of two wars, that of the front and the other relentless war which goes on in his inner world, trying to estimate and adhere to the social norms. He remains in dilemma thinking about his inability to function socially. He is unable to cope up with society’s standards. The author is trying to deal with this type of deep-rooted malady related to the psyche of soldiers like Krebs, by using the above theme.


Harold Krebs

     Krebs is the important character of the story around who interplay of many characters is developed by the author. He carries big psychological baggage of bitter experiences of war-front. This baggage is difficult to dilute, impossible to download. Kreb’s social anxiety consists of many dimensions. He has some serious internal issues and he finds it tough to deal with the social demands like a normal human being. For example, he insists that he doesn’t really need a girl and expresses his doubts about the ripeness of the mind, and thinks that it is a matter of destiny. If it has to happen, a girl would come into his life, without his making special efforts for it. These types of motives influence his thought processes and consequent actions. The hidden meaning in the story is– life changes adapt to the circumstances and overcome. One has to live life in trials, tribulations, duty, and beauty. When Krebs returns to his hometown he finds himself to be a stranger in his own area. His late return from the war front is the major issue. Society is interested in lies about the war, not the harsh realities. But life has to carry on, one has to walk on and on through the hot desert sands, there is bound to be an oasis! The obstacles and mental blocks of Krebs are many, like religious, psychological, emotional, etc. Krebs telling his mother that he can’t pray anymore indicates how his heart remains hardened; his emotional world is totally barren. This is an interesting part of the conversation between Krebs and his mother. “Would you kneel and pray with me, Harold?” his mother asked. They knelt down beside the dining room table and Krebs’s mother prayed. “Now, you pray, Harold,” she said. “I can’t,” Krebs said. “Try, Harold.” “I can’t.” “Do you want me to pray for you?” “Yes.” So his mother prayed for him and then they stood up and Krebs kissed his mother and went out” (www. strong-brain…)

     The other characters are Nick Adams, the protagonist of the story, Nick’s father who is a doctor, Bill, Nick Adam’s best friend, Marjorie, Nick Adam’s girl-friend, Uncle George, Nick’s uncle, Dick Boulton, the half-Native American, Helen Krebs, Krebs’s younger sister, Drevitts, who shoots the two Hungarians, Boyle, a police officer who assists Drevitts shoot the two Hungarians. There are many supporting characters.

Writing style:

     The writing style in the story is flat and not flowery. The outcome of his bitter experiences in the war results in lots of negative connotations. The narrative voice doesn’t create any ripples in the heart of the reader and a deliberate attempt has been made by the author to suppress the feelings. Third-person omniscience is used by the narrator to provide insights into the working of the mind of Krebs. He neither observes the world around him with a sense of belonging nor makes any concerted efforts to join the mainstream of society. The language used describes the emptiness of Krebs.

Context, Plot, and Setting

     In World War I, Hemingway was an ambulance driver in Italy. He was sent home after suffering serious injuries. This obviously is the story of his war experiences. He explains how the horror of war, besides destroying the economics of Europeans and Americans, how it impacted a generation of young men. Psychological problems confront, once the soldier returns from the waterfront. He finds assimilation in the society a tough option, violence, and after-effects of war create many dents in the mental blocks in the soldier’s inner world.

Works Cited:

Hemingway Ernest. Soldier’s Home, Retrieved on March 7, 2012

 Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldiers Home.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, 6th ed. Ed. Edgar Roberts and Henry Jacobs. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2001