How would you describe Harold Krebs's relationships with his family in "Soldier's Home"?

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It's plausible to say that Harold Krebs had a decent relationship with his family before he went off to war. His sisters, especially, look up to him as evidenced by Helen's claim that she wants him to be her "beau." After the war, Harold is greatly changed. He shies from...

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commitment and, as he puts it, complications. He basically wants to be left alone. He sleeps late, mostly avoids the girls of the town and spends much of his time reading books about the war.

His father never appears in the story, but the assumption is that the man's main interest is business. The father is dismayed over Harold's lack of ambition. He even offers to let Harold use the family car to take out a girl if it will change Harold's attitude. He wants Harold to snap out of his lethargy and go to work. Harold's mother says,

"Your father is worried, too," his mother went on. He thinks you have lost your ambition, that you haven't got a definite aim in life."

The father is a stereotype of the pragmatic businessman and purveyor of the Protestant work ethic. Work is the most important thing in life. To be idle is unacceptable. Harold sees work and normal life as full of complications which he seeks to avoid. Because of the horrors he has witnessed in the war, he finds it difficult to adapt to the world of business, religion and social obligations which are the cornerstones of his parents' lives.

Even the simple expression of love toward his mother is impossible for Harold. When she asks him if he loves her he flatly answers no. Not willing to accept his apathy, she cries, forcing an apology from Harold and then saying she will pray for him. She is incapable of understanding what Harold has gone through. Her only recourse is to turn to religion and emotional blackmail. He feels bad and, giving in, says he will go to Kansas City and look for work.

In the final lines Harold reports that he will avoid his father and go to see his sister Helen play indoor baseball. For Harold, Helen is safe. She expects nothing from him other than an expression of love. She says,

"Aw Hare, you don't love me. If you loved me, you'd want to come over and watch me play indoor."

Harold truly loves Helen. She provides him with no complications and going to see her play would be part of a life that goes "smoothly."

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