Can you provide some information about this story (time, place published), and what caused the author to write this story?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Written in 1925, this story of a title with a double meaning is set in a small Oklahoma town to which Harold Krebs, a soldier who has fought in World War I returns.  Like Krebs, Hemingway himself was a veteran of World War I.

Having served himself in this war, Hemingway understood that, as Thomas Wolfe wrote, one "cannot go home again" to the former existence one has had.  When the people of "the soldier's home" expect Harold to be his former self  and refuse to hear his testimony of the war, believing only in the glorified version of WWI, Harold becomes nauseated.  Even his mother continues this delusion.  So, against his intuitive feelings, Harold acquiesces to this "return to the way things were" by lying about his experiences in order to fit back into his society.  When his controlling mother directs him to a "constructive" path of finding a job and attending church with her, Harold, who has been merely idling his solitary days away, can no long repress his feelings.  He tells his mother that he can find no meaning or love in life after having experienced the savagery of war.

After his mother weeps and asks him if he does not love her anymore, Harold regresses to the point of calling his mother "mummy."  Crippled by his return to his town and his home--which, in a sense, has become like a veteran's home (A Soldier's Home)--Harold resolves to move somewhere else where he can be himself and not have to fit the requirements of others.

This story exemplifies Hemingway's insistence on a character's living an authentic existence.  And, it also demonstrates what he once said, "A sense of the tragic is always in the mind of a thinking person."

Read the study guide:
Soldier's Home

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