What is the effect upon Krebbs of having arrived "home" so long after the return of other WWI veterans?Ernest Hemingway's "Soldiers' Home"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Ernest Hemingway's "Soldier's Home," when Krebbs arrives home so much later than the others soldiers of the town, his arrival becomes anticlimactic.  When he does feel like talking, there is no one to listen because the people in his town "had heard too many atrocity sotries to be thrilled by actualities."  So Krebbs finds that he must sensationalize, he must lie.  But, after he does so, he acquires "a distate for everything that had happened to him in the war."  His having to lie to people in town has now sullied and mitigated the memories of "cool and clear" actions he had done in the war, actions that were the right things to do when he could have done something else.  Now these actions are trivialized and have "lost their cool, valuable quality." 

The fabrications of what were very existential experiences make Krebbs nauseated.  When he does talk to a man who was a real soldier, Krebbs falls into the mode of one soldier among others, who has been "sickeningly frightened" all the time.  Then, because he is no longer genuine, Krebbs loses everything, even what was real. He is left to be only a disillusioned man who can no longer relate to his family or to others.  "It was not worth the trouble" to even have a girl.  So he just looks at them, for "the world they were in was not the world he was in."

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