In "Soldier's Home," what does Kreb's statement, "you did not need a girl unless you thought about them," reveal about how he adapted... ... to the hardships of war? How might such an adjustment affect his life at home?

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Krebs’s experience in the war taught him to simplify his feelings. In fact, it is as if the war taught him to suppress all feeling. When the narrator says that Krebs's lies in the pool room robbed him of the “cool and clear” feeling he had during the war, when...

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Krebs’s experience in the war taught him to simplify his feelings. In fact, it is as if the war taught him to suppress all feeling. When the narrator says that Krebs's lies in the pool room robbed him of the “cool and clear” feeling he had during the war, when “he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else,“ the suggestion is that Krebs’s sense of duty turned him into a kind of automaton. The uncomplicated life Krebs wants is a life of emotional disconnection.

Even so, much of Krebs’s time in Oklahoma is spent watching girls. The lesson he learned in the war, that you do not need a girl “unless you thought about them,” is in counterpoint to the another truth, namely, that “when you were really ripe for a girl you always got one. You did not have to think about it.” For Krebs, the problem is not with girls at all but with the bother of having to feel.

This comes to a head at the end of the story when he tells his mother that he does not love her. What he means is that he “doesn’t love anybody” or, rather, cannot love "anybody." Krebs is incapable of making the emotional effort to connect with his mother; his parents’ expectations of him are unbearable. Even though he thinks of himself as a “good soldier,” it is likely that he was not very courageous (he admits to having been scared all the time to other soldiers). His decision to leave town is just another kind of cowardice.

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Krebs' view of women in "Soldier's Home" is an unusual and complicated one. When he returns home, he finds that relationships with women have become too complicated and chooses not to pursue them because of the possible negative consequences. He yearns for the European women he met during the war--women who were happy to be with a conquering soldier for a short time without a meaningful or permanent attachment. Only his younger sister seems to attract his attention; she can give her unconditional love without him having to give in return. Krebs seems to prefer the company of men anyway. He was happy during his college fraternity days and, despite the horrors of the war, seemed contented with the brotherhood of soldiering. To Krebs, women are just a temporary distraction--presumably for sex and feminine comfort--that are no longer worth the effort once he is back in the states. The steps that Krebs must take to court a girl back home, including the need to reveal his innermost thoughts, just don't seem worth the trouble.

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