What is the moral in the short story "Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway?

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While it might be easy to assign a moral to a Hemingway story such as The Old Man and the Sea (persistence, masculinity, respect for nature) it is quite a different thing to interpret a story such as "Soldier's Home " as having some intrinsic message that might teach...

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While it might be easy to assign a moral to a Hemingway story such as The Old Man and the Sea (persistence, masculinity, respect for nature) it is quite a different thing to interpret a story such as "Soldier's Home" as having some intrinsic message that might teach us how to live life. Hemingway's story is about a World War I veteran who has returned home and has obviously been negatively changed by the war. Today, we might say that Harold Krebs suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He has little motivation, sleeps late and has become alienated from his parents. He tells his mother he doesn't love her and that he can't pray. His main goal in life is to avoid complications. When asked about the war, he simply makes up lies. He's interested in the girls he sees but doesn't see the point in actually engaging them socially. At the end he says he will go to Kansas City, get a job and go through the motions because "he wanted his life to go smoothly."

According to James R. Mellow's biography, Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences the story is quite biographical. Hemingway struggled with many of the same issues when he returned from the war. Not surprisingly he left America soon after and lived in Europe throughout the 1920's. He chose to engage in life by marrying, having children, writing and traveling, unlike the seemingly inert Krebs. Thus, a possible moral to "Soldier's Home" is that life cannot be lived without complications. To live a full, exciting life there must be complications. To live without them is to rob one of life's value.

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