Harold Krebs fights as part of the United States Marines in World War I, and he doesn't return from the Rhine until 1919, long after the first wave of soldiers has returned home. The first soldiers to return home were greeted with a kind of "hysteria," but by the time that Krebs returns home, "the reaction had set in." This reaction is that people start becoming bored by soldiers, and they are tired of hearing about the war.
Krebs at first does not want to talk about the war and the heavy fighting he has seen. Later, he is ready to speak about the war, but no one around him wants to hear about it. He finds that he has to lie and elaborate on his war stories to get anyone to listen to him, and then he too develops a reaction to the war and doesn't want to speak about it anymore. In fact, he feels nauseous when the subject of the war arises. All of the valuable things he did during the war are lost to him, and he doesn't appreciate them anymore. As a result, Krebs becomes detached from the world around him. He spends his time lolling about his parents' house, and though he would like a girlfriend, he doesn't even want to put in the effort to impress a girl. He has become dissociated from and unfeeling toward the world around him.