Why does Krebs decide to leave home?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

All things considered, Krebs decides to leave home because he can no longer endure what he considers the superficiality of civilian life.

At its heart, Krebs is tired of living a lie. Interestingly, the words "lie" and "lies" are used 13 times in the story. When Krebs returns from war,...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

All things considered, Krebs decides to leave home because he can no longer endure what he considers the superficiality of civilian life.

At its heart, Krebs is tired of living a lie. Interestingly, the words "lie" and "lies" are used 13 times in the story. When Krebs returns from war, everyone in his hometown wants to hear sensationalized stories about the battlefield. When he tries to relate the truth of his experiences, he finds himself relegated to the margins of conversations. People want to hear about German women chained to machine guns in a forest. They don't want to hear about soldiers struggling with feelings of terror, fear, inadequacy, and resentment.

Even the pretty girls expect Krebs to behave according to social conventions. For his part, Krebs has lost interest in conventional forms of courtship. The "intrigue" and "politics" surrounding romance disgust him. He finds himself exhausted by the "lies" he would have to tell to "get" a girl.

While Krebs likes the look of the American girls, he much prefers the reticence of the French or German girls. To Krebs, the American girls are pretty but have never faced death and war. In his mind, they have little conception of the fragility of life.

Meanwhile, the French and German girls never expected much "talking"; life was too grim to engage in the superficialities of traditional forms of courtship.

In the story, Hemingway also highlights Krebs' difficulty in assimilating back to domestic life. The conversation between Krebs and his mother is especially significant. While his mother still thinks of him as her "child," Krebs is no longer the innocent young man he once was. He has seen the atrocities of war and will never be the same again.

So, Krebs decides to leave home because he can no longer endure what he considers the superficialities of civilian life. He feels alienated from it. It's also very likely that Krebs is depressed, but no one realizes the depth of his anguish.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Perhaps the best answer to this question is that Krebs simply needs a new start somewhere besides his hometown within the household of his parents. Krebs finds it difficult to share the love that his mother desires from him, and the thought of spending the upcoming years watching his kid sister play ball does not satisfy him. After all the horrors he has seen on the battlefield, the tranquility of his home town is a drastic change that he cannot endure. Krebs is used to order within an organization (ex: college fraternity and military); his parents' expectations are to great for him; the local women are too familiar. Leaving town seems to be his best way out. In Kansas City, he will leave his emotional complications behind and, hopefully, find a better fit in a new environnment.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team