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The narrator tells us that Helen is his “best sister.” While eating breakfast, she presents herself as assertive, possibly challenging his masculinity, which is already feeling very weak after his experience in the war. She tells him that she “can pitch better than lots of the boys,” and that he is her “beau.” Although he assures her “you’re my girl now,” his tone is noncommittal, and he only says “maybe” when she asks him to watch her play. The implication is that they once had a close relationship, but he has become as indifferent to her as he is to everyone and everything else since his experience in the war. From the beginning of the story until his last conversation with his mother, Krebs remains passive and unable to feel or do much at all. When his mother confronts him about this, she also infantilizes him, saying “I held you next to my heart when you were a tiny baby.” Although this makes Krebs “sick and nauseated,” he still wants to please his mother. Although he cannot pray, he allows her to pray for him. He resents her for all of this, and especially for making him lie. He will do what she wants, get a job and become “a productive citizen,” but in doing this he feels he is being false to himself for he came home from the war finding all of these routine activities no longer had meaning.
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