Describe the conflicts revealed in the conversation between Mrs. Krebs and Harold at the end of the story. What losses on Harold’s part does the talk reveal?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hemingway's short story "Soldier's Home" Harold Krebs has returned from World War I a changed man. None of the people in his small Oklahoma town understand the horrors he experienced. They simply want to go on as if the war never happened. When he does talk about it he tells lies, presumably about heroism that didn't happen, because that's what people want to hear. He even reads a book about the war to come to terms with what he experienced.

His parents don't understand what he's going through and his conflict with his mother revolves around his lack of motivation to do anything other than sleep late and sit on the porch. Krebs' parents want him to get on with his life and get a job and a girlfriend. His mother says that other men his age are getting on with their lives. She says, "

Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married. The boys are all settling down; they're all determined to get somewhere; you can see that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to being really a credit to the community.

For Krebs, none of it matters. The boy who was once one of a group that conformed to expectations can no longer go along with what society may expect from him. He's unable to tell his mother that he loves her and can't even pray with her. He says he will go off to Kansas City and get a job just to satisfy her.

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Soldier's Home

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