The adjustment from years on the frontlines of World War I to the mundane everyday life of a small Oklahoma town can be difficult. Ernest Hemingway’s character Harold Krebs, has a harder time adjusting to home life than most soldiers that had returned home. Krebs returned years after the war was over and was expected to conform back into societies expectations with little time to adapt back to a life not surrounded by war. Women take a prominent role in Krebs’s life and have strong influences on him. In the short story “Soldier’s Home” Hemingway uses the women Krebs interacts with to show Krebs internal struggle of attraction and repulsion to conformity.
When Krebs was in the army, he had a defined identity as a soldier and when he
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However, Krebs prefered the Germans so much, that he wanted to stay in Germany, one must remember that was after the war and his typical army experience had come to an end. After the war Germany was a wasteland, a place where a man could be free to create his own identity. Not only are the women Kreb sees conformed like soldiers but are a reminder of the social identity that he is suppose to fulfil now that he is home.“[Krebs] did not want [a girl]...” (49). “It was not worth it. Not now when things were getting good again” (49). Krebs lost the individualism he found in Germany and at last is finding himself again, thus Krebs stays away from his hometown girls in fear that they would kill his rediscovered self.
The only girl Krebs seems to be okay with is his sister Helen. The reason for this is because Helen does not conform to the other girls her age instead she would rather play indoor baseball because she ‘can pitch better than lots of the boys’ (50). Helen asked Krebs to be her beau and he agreed. However, Krebs only gives Helen one word responses such as “sure,” “maybe,” and “uh, huh” (50). By using one word responses instead of engaging in a thoughtful two-way conversation Krebs distances himself from his sister.Another way he distances himself from Helen is he only refers to her as his sister, he never calls her Helen his mother does. Krebs has multiple sisters and by not calling