Image Source: http://www.familyoldphotos.com/oh/images/apr5/OHsanduskysoldhomeadmin-r.jpg
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, “Soldier’s Home” (In the Mary McAleer Balkun Text)
Posted by lhobbs at January 4, 2009 06:31 PM
English 122 – Section 17
January 13, 2008
Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home” A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader. Pearson Education INC., 2005
The “Soldier’s Home,” in the title of this story, is not a retirement home for aged veterans but the childhood home of a former marine, Harold Krebs, who fought in World War I and has now returned to live with his mother, Mrs. Krebs in a small town. Harold idles the days away and avoids all serious contacts. Try as he might, having experienced the ravages of war, the ex-soldier cannot adjust to normal life. He feels that he cannot simply revert to his pre-war self and has now become a stranger to the life he once lived. His tragedy is brought about by the conflicting social norms that govern his behavior. The war has greatly affected Harold, and is obvious through his show of emotions, allowing for the controversial topics of masculinity, incest and feminism to arise.
The story begins with a description of two photographs, which brings out the significant contrast between the worlds or the potential safety nets that they represent and clearly illustrates his dilemma. There is a picture which shows him among his fraternity brothers, all of them exactly the same height and wearing the same style collar, and a picture which shows him on the Rhine with two German girls and a Corporal. The first picture seems to signify a traditional American schooling and education, there are no women in this picture, and the fraternity brothers wear collars as a token of male bonding. This American ideal of youthful masculinity clashes with the uniformed male version of the second picture. Women are suddenly present in this picture, and the hint of blossoming sexuality is highlighted by the remark of Krebs and his fellow soldier "...Look too big for their uniforms" page 46, their outgrowing the rigid convention of uniforms, conjures up an altered masculinity.
The theme of masculinity leads to the incest that occurred between the main character, Harold Krebs, and his sister. Incest is not directly, but rather indirectly portrayed in the story. Masculinity that Harold learnt in the army taught him to live without a girl and that he did not need one as all he needed was himself to make it through life. Harold was now considered a man, whereas before he was just a young chap coming straight out of college. Fresh out of college, Harold would not have been able to transition easily especially since he saw the cruelty of the war, and was not accustomed to the courting of girls. Armed with this new ideology, Harold takes away the thought of having someone in his life off his mind, as he did not want to go through the consequences of courting a girl and as a result his emotions are turned to his sister “…Couldn’t your brother be yours just because he’s your brother?”, page 50. Harold finds it hard to love, because he is finding it hard to re-adapt to life, as he is now accustomed to the fact that having a girl in his life is not a necessity. As a result he becomes infatuated with his sister because she was already a part of what he was accustomed to. She was the one girl that he did not have to go through the procedures of courting.
Feminism is an important role in a “Soldier’s Home”, as without it the main character would probably have ended up in a mental institution. The reason for this is because both women, his mother and his sister, helped him tremendously. Without his sister being there for him, Harold would probably have become a homosexual or probably would have never known how to interact with a girl again. The only person in Harold’s life that is willing to help him move on is his mother, but he continues to push her away. She attempts to direct her son towards a “constructive” path, suggesting that he look for a job and attend church with her. The reason Mrs. Krebs suggests this is because she seems to believe that by re-entering the work world he will come back to terms with reality “…you have got to make a start at something” page 51. The work world would enable him to forget about the violence he came face to face with during the war and allow him to find love and move on. At this moment, he cannot repress his true feelings, and his response is that he doesn’t love after experiencing the savagery of war. In the end, if Mrs. Krebs had not urged Harold to get a job he would have probably been a “couch potato” and would have not been able to move on with his life. A war veteran, sitting around idly would definitely not be the best thing for Harold as this would provide him with an abundance of free time to reflect and give way to flashbacks of the war.
The “Soldier’s Home” applies to real life situations when read in depth as it comes with a moral that each and every one of us should be cognizant of. The moral is that throughout life there are certain situations that we may end up in; resulting in us not being ourselves and all we need is someone to remind us of who we used to be in order to get us back on track. Harold Krebs is a lucky guy to have had not one but two people who were very eager to help him to get back to his pre-war self. In life, we always need someone’s shoulder to lean on, even if you feel that you are similar to the main character, who refuses to take anyone’s help.
Posted by: Sasha-ann Jarrett at January 19, 2009 08:24 PM
English 122 CA16
“Kreb” in A Soldier’s Home
In the story A Soldier’s Home, the main character’s name was Kreb. Kreb is portrayed in the story as being a dried up veteran who cannot love anyone, and on top of that, he was also portrayed as a liar. These traits are brought into the story in a couple of different ways which include his past environment, through Kreb’s own words, and description from the author himself.
In text from Edgar V. Roberts, it says that “Appearance and environment reveal much about a character’s social and economic status, and they also tell us about character traits” (Roberts 66). Environment is brought into the story with Kreb’s past military experience. The narrator says that Kreb came back from the war two years after all the other soldiers did in his town. It also explains a picture of Krebs and his unit which consisted of two girls, one German and one French, neither of them were good looking, and also Kreb and his corporal, whose suits were too big for them. This is an environment that represents a tough military experience, which would lead the reader to believe that Kreb is a dried up veteran.
Another text from Roberts states “Although speeches of most characters are functional-essential to keeping the action moving along-they provide material from which you may draw conclusions” (Roberts 66). Correlating with this statement, I am now going to explain how Kreb reveals his disability to love through his own words. In the story, Kreb and his mother were talking about Kreb’s future and him trying to find a job. During this process, Kreb gets frustrated, and starts showing his anger through words. This lead to his mother asking him if he loved her, and he told her no. After this occurred, the mother started crying. Kreb then felt bad and convinced her that he did love her, but when the situation was all over he told himself that he didn’t mean it. He didn’t love anybody, including his own mother.
The last source of Robert’s text I will use states “What the author as a work’s authorial voice, says about a character is usually accurate, and the authorial voice can be accepted factually” (Roberts 67). The author of A Soldiers home explained how Kreb was a liar. He said that Kreb didn’t have any good military stories, so he would go to pool houses and lie to all the other veterans, and civilians about exciting experiences he had never been through. The author also said that even after he lied, the soldiers had better stories than his fake ones, and the civilians didn’t really care anymore due to the delay of Kreb’s return. This proves that one would consider Kreb to be a liar.
The story A Soldier’s Home made it quite simple for me to figure out the character traits of Kreb, but one might not think so unless they read the sources I pulled out of Robert’s Literary guide. These sources help explain how character traits can be revealed by environment, through a character’s own words, and through the author himself.
Roberts, Edger V. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentive Hall, 2005.
Posted by: Allyn Tuff at February 2, 2009 03:18 PM
Academic Writing 2 Eng 122 CA16
17 February 2009
The Plot of “Soldier’s Home”
In Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home”, the plot is clear from the beginning. The main character, Krebs, is a soldier who has just came back from Germany. He notices that his home has not changed since he left, but the people have. Krebs tries to keep his life simple, ever since he came back from the war, because he is having trouble readjusting to the culture he left.
From the beginning of the story, Hemingway starts his plot by Krebs thinking of the girls in his town. Krebs realizes that girls have changed while he was away at war. He describes their new style, “He liked their bobbed hair and the way they walked” (Hemingway 47), and so he assumes that the girls are complicated, which he does not want to deal with it. Because for him, Krebs does not want to work for the girl to be interested in him. He would like if one girl came up to him and not talk much. Krebs wants a girl, yet not do all the work; so he wants it easy and shows he is having a problem speaking to people.
Towards the end, Krebs and his mother have a conversation about what he is going to do
with his life. Both of his parents are worrying about him. They are wondering when Krebs is
going to settle down. Krebs tells his mother that he does not love her, but quickly apologizes to her because he hurt her “So his mother prayed for him and then they stood and Krebs kissed his
mother and went out of the house” (Hemingway 32). Krebs decides to find a job in Kansas City for his mother’s sake. He decides not to go to his father’s office, because he is afraid of what
they will talk about. Instead he goes to his sister’s baseball game, because he just has to sit there and it does not involve relating to people. Krebs just wants his life to be uncomplicated.
The conflict, according to Edgar Roberts, “Refers to people or circumstances that a
character must face and try to overcome” (93). The conflict for Hemingway’s character, Krebsis life is complicated and he is having some difficulty readjusting. He tries to keep his life
plain at home, by not getting a girl. “Not now when things were getting good again”
(Hemingway 48). Krebs is trying to be an innocent child again, so he can progress in life. He overcomes conflict by taking life one step at a time.
Hemingway, Ernest. Literature: A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader. Mary McAleer Balkun. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2005. 46-52.
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2006. 93.
Posted by: Sonia P. at February 16, 2009 04:16 PM
Eng. 122 CA16
Setting of “Soldier’s Home”
Krebs went to the war from a Methodist college in Kansas (Hemingway,46). This is the opening line of “Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway. Krebs was a soldier in World War I stationed and fighting in Germany. He spent time in Europe where he met girls from France and Germany, he had a life there. Krebs was from Oklahoma his home town where he was the only son in the average American family, in the suburban house with a front porch where he would watch the girls walk by, he had a life there in the town where he read the Kansas City Star and played pool at the hall along with watching his sister play indoor ball. It does not get any more real than this.
The story describes the life of this young man who changed drastically than others his age from whom he had grown up with in his hometown. He had toured the land a half world away in Europe where he had seen things that only old men have talked about. The girls are different there than he remembered back home. But the photos he cherishes show the worlds that he had become familiar with, one with his frat brothers at college, the other of him and fellow soldier on the Rhine with two local girls. The descriptive settings in the story reveal all of the in between scenes that Krebs had mentally burned in his memory.
The main images here are that of the girls in which he had known in his life. His mother, of course being the biggest factor, as the wife of his father and mother also of his sisters unlike the girls he had come to know personally in Europe none could compare to his mother whom felt compelled to pray for and with Krebs. The European girls did not have to talk much, a situation that he preferred. The girls in town were all talk and very little action, that which he could notice only from his front porch unlike along the Rhine with the Germans on his arms.
It is a whole other world between the United States of America and Europe. War is particularly vivid especially when experienced first hand along with the stories from the soldier’s who were on the front lines. This is so far from home with the fresh cooked egg and bacon breakfast in the solice of home under the large shady trees that brought coolness to the skin in summer and changed the structure of the girls as they walked under them on the cold hard concrete sidewalks.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home”. Mary McAleer Balkum. Literature: A Prentice Hall Pocket Reader.
Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, (2005): 47-52
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed.
Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, (2005): Ch.6
Posted by: john winans at February 23, 2009 09:35 PM
I read this story just as Sasha-Ann Jarrett has commented. However, I believe that he has already made up his mind about what path he would take by the end of the story. In that he has abandoned the 'constructive path' his mother has given him and continue to fall. As it says, "none of it touched him". He would live away from his family in Kansas City to work. Yet he says another important scene would happen before this takes place; however, he kills any hope we have of him reconciling with his father as being this final scene and instead gives us foreshadowing of whats to come by saying he would go watch Helen play. A confirmation of his love for Helen, his sister, and that the last scene is implied as being this relationship's start. It seems, to me, that he escapes from one war and heads into to another war, literal to metaphoric.
This is after reading it a 3rd time after taking a bit of my medication. It seems even drugs can make you see a story already analyzed in a different light.
Posted by: John M at June 14, 2010 07:27 AM
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved. 2006.