Analysis of Hemmingways a Soldiers Home

In Hemingway??™s ???A Soldiers Home??? it is extremely obvious that the experience as a soldier in a major war like World War I changed not only how Krebs viewed the world but who he was down to his very feelings and perceptions of society. When looking at the following passage ???..when he occasionally met another man who had really been a soldier and they talked a few minutes in the dressing room at a dance he fell into the easy pose of the old soldier among other soldiers ..???(Meyer, 188) Krebs can be understood to have looked at soldiers as a different class of people and to be treated differently and acted differently around. That is of course just the tip of the iceberg as far as the effects that war had on Krebs.
Hemingway was careful to point out that ???nothing in town had changed except that the young girls had grown up.??? (Meyer, 188) It seems that although everything looks the same in town Krebs has changed. He has become more solitary not interested in putting the effort in getting a girl. He would like to have one but does not want to have to work to get her. One could argue that this was a sense of entitlement. (Meyer, 188) As though Krebs thought ???I fought for this country and I deserve to be respected and sought after.??? Hemingway makes it clear that this is not the case by stating that Krebs did not want any consequences. (Meyer, 188) Krebs doesn??™t feel entitled he feels that the complications would be too much of a burden. He would have to worry about the repercussions of his actions and he didn??™t want to live that way anymore.
Krebs??™s first interaction with his mother in his bedroom shows that not only has the war changed Krebs directly but it has also changed the way people view and treat him. Hemingway stated early on in the story that before he left Krebs was never allowed to take out the family car. (Meyer,188) The very first thing that his mother addresses is that his parents want him to be able to use the car. Most people in this situation would be thrilled to have a new privilege like this. However not only does not act excited or grateful, he goes so far as to contradict her, saying that he believes she is lying about his father??™s desire for him to be able to use the car.(Meyer, 189) This shows that Krebs has a lack of respect for his mother as an authority figure.
It is further illustrated that Krebs has removed himself from the mainstream society in his interactions with his mother during breakfast. In discussing his future his mother says ???God has some work for everyone to do. There can be no idle hands in His Kingdom.??? To which Krebs quickly replies ???I??™m not in His Kingdom.??? (Meyer,188) In one very short statement Krebs has declared that he has either completely lost his faith in God, or at the very least feels he has been cast out of his graces and care.
This may seem like a minor issue to someone who has seen what Krebs has seen but the importance of it is further illustrated buy Krebs mothers desire for them pray together after breakfast. (Meyer, 191)This makes it clear that before the war god and prayer was a regular if not major part of Krebs??™s daily life.
If we then take into consideration that Krebs is subsequently unable to pray with his mother when she asks him to join her, but is interested in her praying for him. It then becomes clear that Krebs has not lost all hope and is not completely indifferent he still has at least the slight desire to be a minor part of gods consideration, possibly hoping that someone else praying for him will be enough.
So here in Krebs we have a man who has lost his ambition, his burning for the pursuit of companionship, his faith and his respect for his parents. This is a very broken man. This is someone who even though we get no account of what horrors he has seen, is clearly affected by them negatively.
This alone would be enough for most to see the negative effect participation in a major war can have on a man. However this is not enough clarity for Hemingway he mute illustrate further the depth of change that Krebs has gone through. The coup de grace is Krebs stark answer to his mother??™s inquiry ???Don??™t you love your mother, dear boy??? to which Krebs simply replies ???No.???(Meyer, 191) Looking at this one might assume that Krebs has simply lost his feelings for his mother, but in seeing that she is upset by his response Krebs attempts to explain himself by saying ???I don??™t love anybody.???(Meyer, 191)
Now this was Krebs??™s quick fix attempt trying to help his mother realize that it wasn??™t her it was him. However by making this statement Krebs truly reveals the depth of change that he has gone through. He has stated that he is no longer capable of the most basic of human emotion, Love. The things he has seen have rocked him to the core. He is at the point where he loves no one which by default includes himself.
The last paragraph takes a moment to show how Krebs is on auto pilot and that he has his life laid out before him like a battle plan. He has told his mother something so now he will act on it, but he will not do this and will do that ect. (Meyer, 192) He is truly a soldier following his plan to a tee and not deviating from it.
???A Soldiers Home.??? Is a somber account of the deep seated effects that participation in a major war can have on an average soldier. It clearly illustrates how the internal thought processes and core beliefs can be readily changed and mutated upon return to ???regular??? society. It shows that these changes are not limited to the soldier themselves, but spread to affect the close family members as well. In analyzing this work the reader gets a much better feel for the internal war that occurs after the physical war has been won or lost.