How does Hemingway use the reader's traditional associations with home in "Soldier's Home"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course, the title of this excellent and poignant short story merely serves to emphasise the irony of Krebs' return. Although he has returned "home," it is clear that "home" has changed because of his experiences, and he is now not able to relate to home at all in the same kind of way. One of the most significant moments of the story comes towards the end when his mother forces him to engage once more in life. Note what the narrator tells us in the last paragraph:

So his mother prayed for him and then they stood up and Krebs kissed his mother and went out of the house. He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated.

Note the significant shift from "home" to "house." To Krebs, his home has become merely a house to him now. The associations of warmth, security and safety in the title have now vanished and are replaced by an impersonal, detached world that, like Krebs himself, does not contain any emotion. Thus the title serves to emphasise how un-home-like Krebs' home has become through the trauma of war.