Soldier's Home Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

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

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The moral, as I see it, in the short story "Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway is the toll that war does take on men and women, even if they believe that they have been unscathed by serving their country overseas. Therefore, the moral of this story is that war has personal consequences beyond the national consequences that result from armed conflict between countries.

Consider that the townsfolk in his (Krebs) home town in Oklahoma feel that Krebs returned home too late – well after other soldiers returned home. He is looked down at somewhat because of this. This is the first toll that war has taken on him. This is evidenced in this line from the beginning of the story:

“People seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back

so late, years after the war was over.”

In addition, Krebs wants to talk about the war and his experiences, but, now, no one wants to listen to him. As a result, Krebs bottled up his stories about the war and this caused inner turmoil in him – another consequence of the war as pertains to his life.

Furthermore, when he eventually decided to speak up about his war experiences, he actually didn’t speak about his experiences. He chose to lie and make up stories or speak about what others saw and/or experienced. Knowing that he was actually doing this quite regularly became distasteful to him and ate away at him as he knew he was doing wrong. Consequently, this is a third consequence of war in the life of this particular soldier.

Moreover, Krebs became numb so-to-speak. War caused him to be unambitious, drifting through his days and not having positive goals to strive for. He did not really want to put forth the effort to engage with females and form a relationship that could lead to marriage, possibly, one day. Additionally, Krebs harbored inner resentment toward his mother and father. In essence, he was, internally, mean-spirited towards them. One day, this mean-spiritedness came out against his mother.

Therefore, we see that a soldier returning home is not always a positive experience. War changes people; war hurts individuals in different ways. Those who have never experienced the battlefield cannot know, exactly, what soldiers have gone through. A war can continue in one’s life well beyond the actual conflict – when a soldier returns home and cannot assimilate him or herself back into their former life.

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