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How does Krebs in "Soldier's Home" show the qualities of a Hemingway hero?

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jmess303 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2011 at 4:42 AM via web

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How does Krebs in "Soldier's Home" show the qualities of a Hemingway hero?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 9, 2011 at 7:45 PM (Answer #1)

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Well, I don't know if the word "hero" is entirely accurate. When we think of the fiction of Hemmingway we see he is actually very adept at creating protagonists that are more accurately described as "antiheroes" than heroes. Antiheroes are characters that sharply contrast with the general idea that we have in our minds concerning heroes and what they should be, do and look like. Antiheroes are characterised by inertia, disillusionment and hopelessness.

Clearly, when we begin to think about the character of Krebs in this excellent story describing the disillusionment that so many soldiers experienced following the First World War, he is a character that resists engagement in life in every way. Now that he is back in his home town, he lives his life getting up late, reading and playing pool. Although he obviously likes girls and would want to have one, the thought of the necessary "intrigue and politics" and "courting" that is a requirement to get a girl scares him away. He is a character that avoids commitment in every way possible:

He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences.

Note how this insight into the mind of Krebs reveals just how emotionally exhausted he is and how desperate he is to avoid any form of commitment. Of course, the traditional hero feels a strong commitment towards community and embraces responsibility. Krebs, by his determination to avoid and shirk responsibility, shows himself to be a typical Hemmingway antihero.

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