How can Krebs best be described as a person in "Soldier's Home"?

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To a great extent, Krebs can be described as displaced by his war experience.  The war has left its impact on Krebs in how it has destabilized his perception of the world and his place in it.  Krebs is displaced in most of his interactions back in Oklahoma. While his town and its people have not changed as a result of the war, he has.  This gap is where his displacement is evident.  He is unable to assume the role that a "heroic" war veteran is supposed to play.  He is not sure how to progress from an emotional point of view. The war has changed him and changed his outlook on so much that there is a gap in nearly aspect of experience.  

The "normalcy" of life in Oklahoma makes Krebs so displaced.  He is unable to acclimate to the life with his mother and being what others expect him to be.  His displaced condition is also seen in his desire to leave for Kansas City.  Krebs has no real plan for his departure.  He simply knows that he needs to go somewhere other than where he is.  It is this aspect of the unsettled, the reality that Krebs embodies after the war, that makes him someone that can be described as "displaced."

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Krebs can be described as disconnected from the life he once knew back in his home town. 

Because Krebs has returned home to a town in Oklahoma years after the war, "the greeting of heroes [is] over. He came back much too late." When he feels the need to talk about the war, "no one want[s] to hear about it." At home Krebs even feels alienated from his family. When his mother asks him about the war, her attention wanders, and his father is "non-committal."

Krebs finds that if he would be heard at all, he has to lie. The fabrications become distasteful to him, and he wishes that he could return to the honesty of his actions as a soldier. Now because he has told lies at home, the "cool, valuable quality" of his previous actions "were lost themselves," and he feels a certain nausea about his experiences. As a consequence of these feelings and his inauthentic experiences, Krebs avoids new relationships. For instance, although he likes to look at the girls in town, he knows that they live in another world from the one in which he has been living, so he does not try to become personally involved with any one of them.

When his mother talks to Krebs on behalf of his father who thinks his son has "lost his ambition," she urges him to "settle down to work." She does not understand that Krebs struggles with the meaningless of so many things in life because of the falsities of people's perceptions. When he tries to express this sense of emptiness, Krebs only hurts his mother's feelings, making her cry. Krebs feels sorry for her, and he lies to soothe her. But, after having to lie again, Krebs decides that the only thing to do is to leave home: "He did not want any consequences . . . . He wanted to live alone without consequences."

Unable to keep his life uncomplicated at home, Krebs resolves to go to Kansas City and get a job so that his mother and father will feel "all right about it." Then, perhaps, his life can "go smoothly."

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