Explain how Krebs's war experiences are present throughout the story even though we get no detail about them.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway, the protagonist returns home after World War I and finds himself permanently changed. He can no longer relate to the people in his community or even to his own family. In true Hemingway fashion, the trauma itself is glossed over. Instead of describing the horrible events in Krebs's tour, the locations where he fought are briefly named: "Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel and in the Argonne."

You should consider the many ways Krebs has trouble getting close to other characters. He returns to a town that is uninterested in his experiences. Krebs embellishes his stories so that people will listen to him. He spends his days doing small tasks by himself, such as reading, playing the clarinet, and going on walks. Isolated, Krebs does not want to summon the energy to find a girlfriend or get a job.

Notice how this struggle is elevated with his family. Krebs talks to his "best sister," someone he genuinely "liked." Yet he remains listless when talking to her and can only muster a "Maybe" when asked if he will watch her play baseball. Later Krebs upsets his mother when he honestly tells her that he does not "love anybody." Krebs's wartime experiences smother his feelings of lust and love. Even though the story does not cover the war in detail, it does revolve around the effect it has on Krebs.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial