What does Krebs mean by wanting "to live along without any consequences"? Why might he feel that way?

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Krebs, who suffers from his experiences in the war that do not match up with the perceptions of his family and the residents of his town, simply desires a quiet life of no commitments, a life without the dangers of intimacy and responsibility.

Krebs's return to the states is an anti-climactic one since his return follows long after that of many other soldiers, and "the greeting of heroes was over." In fact, Krebs finds himself compromised by his return as he discovers that people do not want him to relate the truth of the war. Consequently,

...a distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told.

Rather than lie about the war and lie to his mother that he will "try and be a good boy" for her, Krebs leaves home as it, ironically, is not a "soldier's home," but is, instead, a tragic reminder of what he has lost and of that to which he can never return. For Krebs, the situation is the same as that described by the narrator of Thomas Wolfe's novel, You Can't Go Home Again:

You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ...back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time....

There is no escape from Time and Memory at home for Krebs where he must pretend that he has not been irrevocably changed by his experiences in the war. If he leaves home, he will be able to live honestly, at least, and not have to suffer the consequences of pretense.