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Soldier's Home

Uploaded by Admin on Dec 10, 2000

Many of the titles of Ernest Hemingway's stories are ironic, and can be read on a number of levels; Soldier's Home is no exception. Our first impression, having read the title only, is that this story will be about a old soldier living out the remainder of his life in an institution where veterans go to die. We soon find out that the story has nothing to do with the elderly, or institutions; rather, it tells the story of a young man, Harold Krebs, only recently returned from World War I, who has moved back into his parents' house while he figures out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. And yet our first impression lingers, and with good reason; despite the fact that his parents' comfortable, middle-class lifestyle used to feel like home to Harold Krebs, it no longer does. Harold is not home; he has no home at all. This is actually not an uncommon scenario among young people (such as college students) returning into the womb of their childhood again. But with Harold, the situation is more dramatic because he has not only lived on his own, but has dealt with -- and been traumatized by -- life-and-death situations his parents could not possibly understand. Hemingway does not divulge why Krebs was the last person in his home town to return home from the war; according to the Kansas City Star, Hemingway himself "left Kansas City in the spring of 1918 and did not return for 10 years, [becoming] 'the first of 132 former Star employees to be wounded in World War I,' according to a Star article at the time of his death" (Kansas City Star, hem6.htm).

Wherever he was in the intervening time, by the time Harold gets home, the novelty of the returning soldier has long since worn off. All the other former soldiers have found a niche for themselves in the community, but Harold needs a while longer to get his bearings; he plays pool, "practiced on his clarinet, strolled down town, read, and went to bed" (Hemingway, 146). What he is doing, of course, is killing time. The problem, of course, has to do with Harold's definition of who he has become. He recognizes he has changed, and this change is played out dramatically against the backdrop of a town where nothing else has changed since he was in...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   12/10/2000

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,473 words)

Views:   1367

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