Describe the way Krebs spends his days in "Soldier's Home."

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Krebs leads a monotonous life and seems to prefer it that way. He is recovering from all the emotions he experienced in Europe during World War I. He returns to his home town in Oklahoma in the late summer, when it is very warm. He has his own room in his parents' house.

He was sleeping late in bed, getting up to walk down town to the library to get a book, eating lunch at home, reading on the front porch until he became bored and then walking down through the town to spend the hottest hours of the day in the cool dark of the pool room. He loved to play pool.

Krebs, the young protagonist of "Soldier's Home," bears a strong resemblance to Nick, the protagonist in both parts of Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River." The reader gets a strong impression of what these two young Americans have been through in the European battles by what is not said. Krebs loves to play pool; Nick loves to fish for trout. Both are gradually healing in their own separate ways. They have to recover not only from what they felt but from what they saw and what they learned about humanity. For young men fresh from small-town America to see the madness of war was a traumatic experience that changed them for the rest of their lives.They are representatives of their generation.

Hemingway is talking about his own self through the characters in both "Soldier's Home" and "Big Two-Hearted River." He was badly wounded while driving an ambulance and spent many months in a hospital. World War I was in some ways worse than World War II, at least for the British, French and Americans, because of the use of poison gas and the terrible casualties suffered from shelling and machine guns in the interminable trench warfare.

Significantly, Hemingway writes of Krebs:

He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences.

"Consequences" would seem to mean approximately the same thing as "involvements." Krebs seems distant, unapproachable, hypersensitive, untouchable. He looks at girls but doesn't want to get involved with them because that certainly could lead to "consequences." His mother would love to see him find a girl, get married, find a steady job and start leading a normal life. In the end he decides that he will go to Kansas City and get a job. He seems to have grown too much through his war experiences to remain confined to a little town in Oklahoma.