Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champangne, St. Mihiel, and the Argonne were the sites of fierce and bloody fighting. Why do you think Kreb won't talk about them to the people at home in "Soldier's Home"?

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The short story "Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway tells of a young man named Harold Krebs who returns late to his hometown from World War II. For most people, the war has been over for some time and the celebrations have ended. At first he doesn't want to talk about the war, and then he wants to talk, but no one will listen. He begins to lie to gain an audience. Otherwise, he is sluggish and content to sleep late, spend time at the library, and sit on the porch and watch girls. When his mother presses him to get busy, Krebs confesses that he no longer feels that he is a part of God's kingdom. He then tells his mother he doesn't love her or anyone. He is obviously discontented, unsure of himself, and finding it difficult to make decisions.

Part of Krebs's motivation for not talking about the war may be because he is aware that the townspeople have heard war stories many times before. The hysteria about the war is over, and people simply want to forget about it and move on. Krebs may initially sense this mood and so backs off from sharing what he went through.

However, another reason that Krebs doesn't want to talk about the war, which would account for some of his other behavior, is that he may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. As the story says, he was in several major battles, and he may remember traumatizing events from the war that he does not want to share.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines PTSD as "a disorder that develops in some people that have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event." Many soldiers returning from war suffer from PTSD. Sometimes the symptoms show up months or even years later. The symptoms include flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, and negative thoughts about oneself or the world. We can see from the story that Krebs experiences some of these symptoms, and when he gets home, the trauma he suffered during the war may initially be preventing him from speaking about it.

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