What relationship is there between the things he describes and the length and complexity of his sentences in "Soldier's Home"?

Asked on by sherley17

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Short sentences deliver facts, while the longer and more complex sentences provide commentary.

Consider the description of the soldier’s stories.  It begins with a short statement.

Even his lies were not sensational at the pool room.

Krebs feels isolated and ignored.  His stories don’t get enough attention, so he makes up stories.  This one simple statement captures the pain and loneliness he felt.

To further delve into why Krebs is ignored, we are provided directly next with a sentence that is so complicated it’s hard to believe it was written by the same hand. 

His acquaintances, who had heard detailed accounts of German women found chained to machine-guns in the Argonne forest and who could not comprehend, or were barred by their patriotism from interest in, any German machine-gunners who were not chained, were not thrilled by his stories.

This compound-complex sentence highlights the confusion and difficulty of the situation.  The townspeople are used to hearing horror stories.  Another horror story, no matter how fantastic, just can’t compete. 

As the reader feels the sharpness of the short sentences, there follows the meandering quagmire of the second sentence.  

Just as he is trying to wind himself into popularity, the sentence winds to get the reader’s attention.  We feel sorry for the old soldier, because even his lies are not interesting.


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