Emotional Detachment In "Soldier's Home" Essay

741 words - 3 pages

A photo of Krebs during World War I shows him with a corporal and two German girls on the Rhine River. One's first thought of this picture may be of a lighthearted sightseeing trip on leave from the front. However, in the photograph, Krebs and the other corporal are described as "too big for their uniforms," the German girls as "not beautiful," and the Rhine does not even appear in the photograph (154). This is how Ernest Hemingway begins "Soldier's Home," the story of a young war veteran named Harold Krebs who has recently returned home. Everything that Krebs says and does is to make his life as smooth and have as few complications as possible, more than likely a stark contrast to his life in Europe.

Krebs is a detached being who just wants to keep his life as uncomplicated as possible. He doesn't receive the same hearty welcome as his fellow soldiers, thanks to his returning home so much later than the rest. At first he doesn't want to talk about the war, presumably because of the atrocities he experienced there, but when he later feels the need to talk about it, no one wants to listen (154). The only way for Krebs to get a reaction to his stories is to lie about them, and this gives him a general distaste for the war itself. He would like to have a girl, but doesn't want to go through the trouble of getting one. He feels that he would need to lie to get one, and he doesn't want to lie anymore. He preferred the girls abroad, where the language barrier took the politics and courting out of the picture, making things as simple as possible.

Krebs lives a simple life in a simple town, and he wants to keep it that way. The war was complicated enough, and now Krebs just wants to live without complications, commitments, or consequences. "He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live alone without consequences" (155). Although this wish seems simple enough, breakfast at the Krebs' family table will prove otherwise.

Krebs' sister starts a conversation about indoor baseball that...

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