Is Harold Krebs from "Soldier's Home" a dynamic flat, dynamic round, static flat, or static round character?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Harold Krebs has been changed by his war experience, in the narrative of "Soldier's Home," he intends to remain uninvolved, detached, and restrained from the beginning to the end. Thus, he is a static character in Hemingway's story. 

Krebs is the stoic male returned from death and desperate situations; he is battered, but still tough, making a style out of his despair as he realizes that the world is filled with hypocrisy. He finds that the people no longer want to hear stories of the atrocities of Argonne and such battles since they have already heard enough from those who have returned earlier. 

Krebs found that to be listened to at all he had to lie, and after he had done this twice he, too, had a reaction against the war and against talking about it. A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told. 

Krebs pulls back from this world of hypocrisy because he craves order and form in behavior. "He did not want to get into the intrigue and politics" of courting girls, because he wanted no consequences. "It was all too complicated."

When his mother talks to Krebs, he upsets her as he answers her question, "Don't you love your mother, dear boy?" by saying that he loves no one. He then plays the role of the dutiful son and acts younger as he calls her "Mummy." Then he kisses her and leaves the house since he feels terrible for having lied to his mother as he has told her he would try to "be a good boy" for her. He departs, aware that there may be one more scene when he leaves for Kansas City. 

Harold Krebs leaves town because "he wanted his life to go smoothly." He has lost his faith in religion and the values of his parents. He cannot live a life of hypocrisy.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this story, I would argue that Krebs is presented to us as a static character and as a round character. He is definitely a character that does not change in terms of his core personality by the end of the story, even though he plans to change his actions to please his mother and those around him. He is, above all, a character who is characterised by his profound disconnect with society and with emotions. Note how he is defined in the middle of the story, when we are told that he is not interested in any romantic relationship:

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

Even though he promises his mother to get a job, he and we as readers recognise that the emotional atrophy that has occurred within him and that defines him to such an extent is something that is not going to fade away any time soon. He is a round character precisely because he is described to us in such detail and with such psychological realism, as the quote above testifies.

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Soldier's Home

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