Why is "Home Soil" by Irene Zabytko so complicated for such a short story?
The complexity of the story is indicated by the tears of the narrator’s son, Bohdan. The two, father and son, have obviously had parallel experiences with wartime atrocities, although we do not learn the precise nature of what Bohdan has been through.
In light of the story’s first-person point of view, we cannot learn what Bohdan has done because Bohdan does not speak to the narrator about his experiences. The parallel is made complete in paragraph 30, when the narrator observes that Bohdan may never tell him what happened in Vietnam. The narrator then confesses, “I never told anyone either.”
Some ideas that underlie this commonness of wartime experience are that fighting is never over, that people are called upon in warfare to engage in hostilities that produce death, that they can never forget that they have caused death even though they may find excuses for their actions, and that people and governments never learn from past experience to avoid the future guilt that state warfare creates in its citizens who participate in such warfare.