The Consequences Of Destruction In Soldier's Home By Ernest Hemingway

1282 Words 6 Pages
When placed in a new environment, one must adapt. The adaptations that occur may affect an individual’s life deeply, but what happens when one returns to a former environment with new clarity? Does the individual or environment triumph? Throughout Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Soldier’s Home,” the main character, Krebs, struggles with his identity after returning home from war. Telling lies and losing his sense of war-changed self afflicts him. Krebs’ family and society pressure him into “renormalizing.” When attempting to reintegrate him into the community, his family ignores the past years that Krebs has spent at war and instead views him as “Harold”, Krebs’ previous teenage self who never grew up. In “Soldier’s Home,” the war experience …show more content…
In a similar manner as the greater society, Krebs’ family fails to recognize his changes and wishes to throw him back into the pool of ordinary characteristics. Krebs’ conversations with his mother demonstrate his isolation from his family. At one point, his mother asks, “Have you decided what you are going to do yet, Harold?” (74). This question implies that she believes Krebs has not accomplished anything of importance in his life even though he has just risked his life while fighting a war for the protection of his mother, family, and country. The change of name from “Krebs” to “Harold” when a family member addresses him also indicates the lack of recognition that Krebs has grown up. “Krebs” refers to a man while “Harold” refers to a boy. The reply that Krebs uses—“‘I hadn’t thought about it,’”—merges the conflicts he faces: how he will define himself at home and how he will handle the pressures of society to renormalize. Here, the reader can see that the incongruity between lies and truth regarding his war experiences obstructs him from “normal” interests such as deciding what to do next in life. Unfortunately, Krebs’ mother cannot acknowledge his struggle. She resorts to worrying about his actions and how they will affect his societal …show more content…
When Krebs blatantly tells his mother he does not love her, the reader understands the brutal reality that shocks his mother reflects the atrocities Krebs experienced at war. War’s terrible scenes have stripped his ability to be bothered by complicated emotions such as love. Throughout the story, the repetition of, “it was not worth it,” depicts this inability (72). This lack of sentiment also speaks to the difficulty he has blending back into society because every time he has a longing to reintegrate, he decides, “it [is] not worth it” (72). However, in the last paragraph of “Soldier’s Home,” Krebs discusses the ways he will mix with his community. The narrator says, “There would be one more scene maybe before he got away” (77). This line suggests that Krebs can only bear one more lie before he will lose himself. He will become the person his mother, family, and community desire to perceive. Krebs has told too many lies, and therefore, lost too much to believably show his war-changed self to his community. The last sentence of the story, “He would go over to the schoolyard and watch Helen play indoor baseball,” indicates that in the end he will do what is expected of him. Krebs will surrender to the pull of an already defined, normal

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