Many war veterans have a hard time adjusting to life after war. What happened in the war is always on their mind. What they went through was so tragic that they cannot forget about what happened. Krebs in Earnest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” is struggling to adapt to normal life after coming home from World War I. He is not the same person he was before the war, “I don’t love anybody” (169). His view on the world is different. He even sees women in a different way than he did before, “Besides he did not really need a girl. The army had taught him that” (166). Krebs came home from the war later than most of the other soldiers. People in his hometown do not have the patients to listen to his war stories. He may feel that people do not understand what he went through “His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities” (165). It also may make him feel like he is different than everyone else. Since no one wants to hear about his stores, and he does not want to take any consequences of living in a civilized manner, he can never move on in his life from the war. The saying “you can’t go home again” relates to Krebs because the war is always on his mind and he cannot escape it.
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Hemmingway makes a clear distinction in the story between the two names that Krebs goes by. His family still calls him Harold; the text refers to him by Krebs. Before the war, Krebs is known as Harold. Harold was an innocent boy. His life was simple. He did not have much experience of the world. He had enlisted to the war from a Methodist college. He enlisted to the Marines most likely because many of his friends enlisted. Like many whom enlisted during the time, he had not had any experience in the battlefield. The death of his friends, and fellow people that he knew was tragic. The death he saw from the war scarred him. His family always knows him as Harold “I had a talk with your father last night, Harold” (167). After the war though, Krebs left behind a part of himself back in Europe. He never talks about how bad the battles were. He was in some of the bloodiest battles in the war. He never talks about them because he does not want to relive them. The battles changed him because he saw so much death. He is no longer Harold. The war had such an impact on him that he turned into a completely different person. No one recognizes this new person.
Other than the change of names the war changed Krebs’s view on women. In Europe it was all about the sex. He does not want a relationship with a woman in his own town because relationships are complicated, and he does not want to take any risks and lose anything else. Krebs did not have to communicated much with the French or German girls, “But he would not go through all the talking” (167). Having a relationship is too much work for Krebs. All he cares about it the sex, “You couldn’t talk much and you did not need to talk” (167). Doing all the work to get a girl is too much work. Krebs just returned home and is not used to the women. At Germany he did not have to do much to get attention from them “There is a picture which shows him on the Rhine with two German girls and another corporal. Krebs and the corporal look too big for their uniforms. The German girls are not beautiful” (165). The only way that he could have a relationship is to more on from what happened from the war, but he is having too much of a hard time.
Krebs’s family knows that he needs to move on from the war. They try to encourage him to drive the family car. They likely do this so that Krebs can have more freedom. They may think that letting him have the ability to drive the family car will make him want to do other things like getting a job or going back to school “He thinks you have lost your ambitions, that you haven’t got a definite aim in life” (169). Krebs says he loves no one, because he does not want to take any consequences. They wanted him to get a job but, Krebs does not want to do it. His mother is probably the most desperate person to want him to move on. She prayed for him to try to give him some hope, but Krebs does not think much of it. He does not want to do what his mother and father ask him to do, because he wants to live a simple life. He no long has any ambition like his father predicts. He lost that during the war. He sees his sister play baseball because she is much like he wants to be. Young, innocent, and simple. That is what Krebs wants to be after the war.
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Krebs may never go back to who he once was. He has to move on from the war to be able to achieve anything in his life. He is always remembering what happened in the war. He wishes he was back in Germany sometimes. He also needs to tell people about his stories without lying about it. Before he left the war, he fit in well with his hometown. Now he is an outcast to everyone. He will not take any chances in life anymore. He saw too many people die in the war from taking chances. The saying “you can’t go home again” may live with Krebs his entire life. His views may never change. He may never move on. His family still knows his as Harold, but he will remain to be Krebs as long as he decides.
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