Critical Discussion

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Like Nick Adams after he returns from the War, Harold Krebs cannot simply take up his old life. He has undergone a fundamental transformation as a result of his exposure to the horrors of the war. A chasm now exists between Harold and the townfolks. They not only remain exactly as they were before the War, they insist that the ex-marine confirm their perverse understanding of war as a glorious affair, filled with opportunities for heroism. Mr. Krebs believes that her son can simply return to his old self and resume a conventional life from there. As he does with the other members of the community, Harold gives in to his mother’s vision of him, regressing into childhood by calling her “mummy” while holding back the nausea that he suffers from lying to her. In the end Harold must leave his familiar surroundings, but the reader doubts that things will go smoothly for him in Kansas City, no matter how detached he tries to be.

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