In the story "Soldier's Home," what is the theme? theme

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I see two primary themes in Ernest Hemingway's short story, "Soldier's Home." One is the how fear can paralyze and take everything from you, and the other is how conformity can leave one isolated.

Hemingway offers many details that show conformity, both in Krebs's conformity and the...

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I see two primary themes in Ernest Hemingway's short story, "Soldier's Home." One is the how fear can paralyze and take everything from you, and the other is how conformity can leave one isolated.

Hemingway offers many details that show conformity, both in Krebs's conformity and the conformity of the people of the town, including Krebs's family. The conformity of the townspeople is evidenced in several lines, such as, "Nothing was changed in the town except the young girls had grown up." Additionally, "They all wore sweaters and shirtwaists with round Dutch collars. It was a pattern." It is also evidenced in the paragraph where the narrator states that nearly every soldier posed with a girl in pictures, but it wasn't truly a relationship. That is another example of conformity. Another example is when Harold's mother starts talking to him about getting a job, citing all the other soldiers who have gotten jobs and were earning respectable incomes. Krebs had been in a world of conformity, from the uniform he wore and the things he did to the stories he told of the war (lies he thought people wanted to hear), only to return to his hometown, which is a sea of conformity. Instead of embracing the conformity, however, it has left him completely isolated.

The other theme is how fear can paralyze a person and take everything away from them, which is illustrated in this passage:

Krebs acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is usually the result of unthruth or exaggeration, and when he occasionally met another man who had really been a soldier and they talked a few minutes in the dressing room at a dance he fell into the easy pose of the old soldier among other soldiers: that he had been badly, sickeningly firghtened all the time. In this way, he lost everything.

Imagine living with that type of fear. It would cause you to lose all trust, all sense of security and safety, all sense of belonging and even love. It is this fear which he carries back with him to Oklahoma that causes him to lack the courage to make an effort in a relationship with a girl. It's this fear that causes him not to be able to love his family in the way he probably used to. And it's this fear that paralyzing him and keeps him from moving forward with his life.

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Certainly one of the topics that come to mind and stand out resonate in the story's title as they do in our own lives: adaptation. Here is a  man who has gone through a life-changing event and has allegedly experienced a series of consequences caused by his own choices. As a result, he has to choose how to re-adapt himself to understanding a life, as he knew it, all over again.

With understanding life again comes a re-birth of mind and consciousness; of reality and truth. He has to re-visit all his value-system, his own mental substenance, traditions, and schema of life and transfer all that towards a new scheme that, in itself, is also new to him. It is hard to imagine being part of a world, then being taken to another, and then being returned to the original world from where you came and -suddenly- it is now completely incomprehensible to you. It is like two zones of reality continuously multiplying without control.

The need to understand, adapt, re-do, revisit, reinstate, and re-start are certainly what makes this story a journey to the main character.

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The primary theme in Ernest Hemingway's short story "Soldier's Home" is Krebs' inability to relate to his mother and to home life after his return to Oklahoma following World War I. After witnessing death and destruction while participating in some of the war's most bloody battles, Krebs returns home where his parents try to coax him to return to his old routine. But his view of the world has been altered permanently, and attending ball games and dating are no longer easy for him. He no longer feels love in his heart and cannot bring himself to "lie" and tell his mother he still loves her. When he is asked to pray with his mother, he is also unable to do so. In one of Hemingway's most famous lines, "Krebs looked at the bacon fat hardening on his plate." Like the bacon, his heart has been hardened by what he has seen in Europe, and he knows he must get far away from his parents in order to get his life in order. 

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