Soldier's Home Essay Questions

Answering Question on Earnest Hemingway’s Book, ‘Soldier’s Home’

1.The title, "Soldier's Home," focuses on the setting. Do you have a clear picture of Krebs's Home? Describe it, filling in missing details from you associations of home, Krebs's routine, or anything else you can use

Krebs’ home is a small house owned by his mother. He returns to Oklahoma late from war to the cold reception of his town. Everything has changed for Krebs and his new ‘home’ becomes his disappointments in life.

2.What does the photograph of Krebs, the corporal, and the German girls reveal?

The picture shows the distasteful and disgusting experiences with not-so-beautiful German girls of Krebs and another corporal in poorly fitting uniforms. It reveals irony in that the American soldiers who were once foes have affairs with German girls from whom they are culturally, ethnically and linguistically different. Since the American Soldiers are not necessitated to talk and the girls are supposedly harlots the relationship between them, as Krebs will say, is uncomplicated.

3.Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel, and the Argonne were the sites of bloody fighting. What effect have these battles had on Krebs? Why do you think he won't talk about them to the people at home?

Before he went to war, Krebs was an affectionate son and brother; however during the war he did away with most of his beliefs and norms and did whatever he wanted. He was religious and ‘went to the war from the Methodist College in Kansas’, which is evidence enough of a normal life led by anybody of his age then. He had little time or no interest in women then. But the conduct of Krebs following ‘his second division’s return from Rhine in the summer of 1919’ is that of a person having a problem with his own self. His home is not the same and he has to radically adjust. His lateness in returning home is hurting since all other heroes have been celebrated and he is left struggling to belong to a town he once belonged. The high profile social alienation he experiences makes him want to please his accountancies by being dishonest about the war so as to heal is psychologically wounded self. However, when he meats another war hero, Krebs does not want to share lest his dishonesty is detected. 

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4.Why does Krebs avoid complications and consequences? How was has the war changed his attitudes toward work and women? How is his hometown different from Germany and France? What is the conflict in the story?

Krebs’ constantly attempts to run away from reality. He is always lying about the war to present himself as a great hero of war. To avoid facing the ruthless consequences of dishonesty, Krebs chooses not to talk about the war in the presence of his fellow soldiers. He resists all attempts by her mother to make him work and only does so to avoid conflicts with his mother that he has come to find overbearing. He has lost his taste for women that he once liked to look at from the front porch as they walked on the other side of the street, under the shade of the trees and their bobbed hair and the way they talked. In Germany and France, says Hemingway of Krebs, ‘he would have liked a girl to come to him and not wanted to talk. But here at home it was too complicated, he knew he would never go through it again’.

5. Why do you think Hemingway refers to the protagonist as Krebs rather than Harold? What is the significance of his sister calling him "Hare"?

Hemingway uses the name ‘Krebs’ instead of “Harold’ to show the differences between the character of Krebs and his father. The two have different values and qualities. This depicts the impact that war has on the youth more than it does on the old that Harold represents. The old create the war but the young carry it out and thus facing all consequences that come with it. The use of ‘Hare’ by Krebs’ sister is an effort to make the name ‘Harold’ sound young by the use of a language variety that characterizes many youths. It can also act as a reminder to the reader of Krebs’ trickery and lies about the war.

6. How does Krebs's mother embody the community's values? What does Krebs think of those values?

Krebs’ mother believes that one who believes in God must work. He tells Krebs’, ‘there are no idle hands in God’s Kingdom’. Krebs’ sees such a value as irrelevant to him since he replies by saying, ’I am not in His Kingdom’. The mother is very committed towards helping her son and making him regain his earlier well being, a value that the father lacks since he chooses to talk to Krebs through his mother. Krebs appears to be reluctant in taking him the advices of his overly committed mother. Krebs’ mother upholds affection as seen in manner in which she nags Krebs with questions of whether he loves his brother and herself. Krebs has greatly been affected by the war and sees loving a person as mere wastage of commitment and to avoid conflict with his mother hold the nausea on and lies that he loves her.

7.Why can't Krebs pray with his mother?

Life in the war has hardened Krebs’ so that ordinary things he used to do before the war such as praying have become irrelevant to him. The merciless killings he took part in Belleau Wood and Argonne have had a significantly transforming effect on his perception of what life is all about. His participation in the terrifying wars have made him believe that he is no longer fit for God’s Kingdom not mention praying to Him. He can no longer pray with his mother because he no longer believes in God.

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8.What is the resolution to Krebs's conflict?

Krebs is in a difficult situation being a young man who has been scarred by the terror of war, the longing for peace back at home and the desire to be accepted upon his return home. To help himself out, Krebs has to appreciate his current state and work hard towards resolving it. The government and society should brace itself to ensure that war veterans are well received and a rehabilitation be conducted before such before are injected back to the community.

9. Comment on the appropriateness of the story's title.

The title, ‘Solder’s Home’ is symbolic and appropriate.  The story deals with key changes that a normal young American soldier has to face on returning from world war, of them being the pain one goes through on returning late from a major war. Hemmingway says ’,people seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back home so late, years after the war was over’, (153) adding to his disgust that makes him turn his mind upside down for his painful experiences. Krebs’ home becomes the challenges and his own lies about the war that he has to face. Home becomes is intra-personal battle in which no one but himself can help. His psychological problem leads him to killing himself. He went to war as young only to return as psychological garbage: indeed, a soldier may return home, but he is definitely not the boy who went to the war.

Explain how Krebs's war experiences are present throughout the story even though we get no details about them.

To the experiences in war, Krebs lost all his faith, he only shows affection and he has taken to very simplistic and common approach and view towards life and relationships. He no longer feels completely accepted by his town. He can no longer please his college friends again and can only find a weak consolation from fellow emotionally crippled soldiers he fought together in the war.

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