The world famous writer with the powerful and extraordinary talent Ernst Hemingway can with limited words show the rich inner world of his heroes, their complicated feeling and often tragic worries. The Soldier’s Home is a story about Harold Krebs who came back home after the war and meets difficulties with fitting the current society.
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It seems that the problem is that Harold came back one year later than the other soldiers, and “the greeting of heroes was over” (Hemingway, 87). Certainly, this is just the top of the iceberg and this problem has deeper roots. The whole generation of soldier after the war is called as a “lost generation”. A lot of years Harold spent on the battlefield. However he fought when it was time for that. He drank and ate or fell asleep at the military order. He did not learn how to decide for himself. He was pulled out of the ordinary life, and the world did not stop its development. Furthermore his attitude to life is also different now. Harold does not have the same needs as other men in his age. He needs no job and no family. His soul was tempered by everything what he has seen during the war. At the same time his family, especially his father, cannot accept a Harold’s point of view because he wants him to assimilate and to live the normal life.
In the short story there is a rising conflict between Harold’s values and the expectation that he should be assimilated to the norms of the current society and to become an active member of the society. His mother says that “you have lost your ambition, that you haven’t got a definite aim in life” (Hemingway, 92). Although his family worries about his passive lifestyle, no one tries to understand where the problem is. The worst is also how the society accepts the individual with their inner problem after coming back from the war. He refuses to change anything because he is “not His [God’s] Kingdom” (Hemingway, 92) and in this case he is not obligated to conform the rules of society and religion. What is really pity in this conflict that it is solved neither in the Hemingway’s short story, nor in the real life.
As the other heroes of Hemingway’s short stories and novels Harold is restrained and brave. He suffers from the loneliness and in contrast is trying to find inner freedom that is why he goes away from the falsity of the reality. It is obvious that the war has stolen his ability to have any feelings and dehumanized a Krebs’s mind. He is not the dreamer, however he thinks a lot. He is pretending to avoid the consequences. He is thinking about the girls but in his opinion they are not “worth the trouble” (Hemingway, 89). He does not sure who he is now because he cannot live the present, he is living in these memories about the military time. Besides very important is a style the story was written in. Hemingway’s writing style is flat and lifeless to express the general feeling of the story. There are only facts, no description of the other characters. The lack of verbosity in the story helps to understand the problem that Krebs has faced. He is lifeless and flat, his only wish is to lie in bed and ignore the surroundings. He enjoys showing the world that he no longer he belongs in it (Comtois).
This short story is a very colorful example of the irony. First of all from the very beginning the war was “immediately presented as the backdrop against which all Krebs’s experiences, past and present, shall be measured” (Petrarca, 664). The story keeps the irony by not giving any hint what will be the Krebs’s future. Krebs would rather escape from the reality and to move to the other city and start the new life, but he understands the unrealness of this plan because “that all was over now, anyway” (Hemingway, 93).
Hemingway’s “hallmark is a clean style devoid of unnecessary words”. In critics’ opinion, generally his short stories are held equal or superior to his novels (VanSpanckeren, 71). The extraordinary and innovative character of the Hemingway’s creative activity influenced a lot of writers all over the world.