Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Ernest Hemingway’s understated, detached style is suited to this story of a soldier whose reaction to his environment is itself understatement and detachment. The author’s narrative technique, sentence structure, dialogue, lack of symbolism and imagery—all these strategies create a successful marriage between form and content in “Soldier’s Home.”
Told in the journalistic style of a third-person narrator, the story appears to be a simple, objective, disinterested report of Harold Krebs’s return from the war. The first paragraph sets up this expectation of objectivity when the narrator describes a photograph of Krebs and his fraternity brothers in college. What the reader notes, however, are the details that this journalistic narrator chooses to include. Stating, for example, that it was a Methodist college and that all the men in the picture were “wearing exactly the same height and style collar,” the narrator is pointing to the conformist mentality of prewar, midwestern America.
The sentence structure is also suited to the message of restraint, of the famous Hemingway code of “grace under pressure.” In both the narrator’s explanations and the dialogue itself, the clipped sentences imply a control, a sense of holding on and holding in. Thus, a series of sentences might use the same syntactical structure: “He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. He did not want to have to do any courting. He did not...
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Benson, Jackson J., ed. New Critical Approaches to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990.
Berman, Ronald. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the Twenties. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Ernest Hemingway. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005.
Burgess, Anthony. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1999.
Flora, Joseph M. Ernest Hemingway: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1989.
Hays, Peter L. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Continuum, 1990.
Hotchner, A. E. Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir. New ed. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. 1985. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1999.
Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. Adiós Hemingway. Translated by John King. New York: Canongate, 2005.
Reynolds, Michael. The Young Hemingway. New York: Blackwell, 1986.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Paris Years. New York: Blackwell, 1989.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Homecoming. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.
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