In "Soldier's Home," why is Krebs so dispassionate towards everything, including women?Ernest Hemingway

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Krebs's horrific experiences in World War I have killed something inside him; that is, his spirit has been destroyed by the war.  After the senselessness of warfare, Krebs has little desire for anything; he just wants everything to be simple as he attempts to reorder his life by reading about the war in an effort to have guidance in understanding his experiences.

Because he is so shocked by the savagery of war and the existential meaningless of life, Krebs dislikes the complications of lying, which is what people seem to want whenever they ask him questions. For, he has "acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is the result of untruth or exaggeration."  Because of this nausea and because the young girls

lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds...Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it.

The appeal of the women is "not very strong" since their lives are a small battleground themselves with their "alliances" and "feuds." Krebs wants no part of the interpersonal and "political" complications of dating or going with one woman.  He merely wants things to be simple as it had been during the war with the French or the German girls; there were no emotional attachments.  Emotional attachments are too difficult for Krebs now in his psychological post-war confusion.  He even tells his mother when she asks if he lover her, "No."  Krebs cannot be what he once was; the war has taken that person from him.