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Much like Erich Maria Remarque's character Paul Baumer of All Quiet on the Western Front, Harold Krebbs returns home from WWI damaged from the meaningless savagery of the trench warfare. Certainly, there is something in Krebbs that has died. Both men prove true the figuarative words of Thomas Wolfe, "You can't go home again." For, they are unable to resume the lives they knew before the horrific experiences of war.
You might like to think about the kind of life that Krebs is shown to lead. It is a life that is marked by disengagement and a lack of commitment. He spends his days laying in bed, reading, playing his clarinet and playing pool. He has not made any effort to get a job or to try and get a girl. As the text tells us, these things symbolise consequences, and consequences are what he will do anything to avoid:
He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences.
Compared to other boys, like Charley Simmons, to whom Krebs is compared unfavourably by his mother, Krebs is definitely not on his way to being "a credit to the community." The opposite is true, as he is forced into getting a job by the end of the story. This excellent tale therefore shows that through facing the horrors of war, young people often became disillusioned and alienated from the very values that they fought so hard to protect.
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