By the time Krebs returns, his hometown had quit “the greeting of heroes” and “the reaction had set in.” What is this reaction? How does it affect Krebs?

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Krebs has missed the big celebration for returning veterans. As Hemingway says, “People seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late, years after the war was over,” as if his credibility as a soldier was determined by the timing of his return. It’s not clear what exactly the “reaction” might be, but it’s not too hard to imagine that after the “hysteria” of welcoming home the soldiers, people were worn out with paying special attention to veterans and simply wanted to get back to their lives. Krebs wants the same thing, in a way. Had he come home to a big welcome, I don’t think he would feel any differently. Krebs also simply wants his life “to go smoothly,” which I have to understand as meaning that he would like to find a place where he no longer has to explain himself or lie about his true feelings, as he does to his mother and casual acquaintances when he tells stories about the war.

Harold Krebs fights as part of the United...

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