What does Hemingway's setting represent in "Soldier's Home"?

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

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It seems as if the setting of this powerful short story is designed deliberately to highlight the emptiness and apathy of the life of Krebs now that he has returned "home" after experiencing the horrors of war. He has returned to a small town in Oklahoma that appears to be desperate to forget about the war and move on with life. This is what Krebs is unable to do, even though his mother pleads with him to try and engage with life. Note how she does this:

"Your father is worried, too," his mother went on. "He thinks you have lost your ambition, that you haven't got a definite aim in life. Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married. The boys are all settling down; they're all determined to get somewhere; you can see that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to being really a credit to the community."

By this the setting of the post-war town is reinforced by reference to boys like Charley Simmons, who, like Krebs, have fought in the war, and now have returned home and are desperate to get ahead and put the war behind them. Of course, this is precisely what Krebs finds so hard to do, as he is disengaged and apathetic about his life even though he is "home."

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