Literary Analysis

Question

Use 3 elements (character, setting, plot, point of view, 
style, tone, theme. etc.) to analyze “Soldier’s Home” Ernest Hemingway story.
Please use setting element, other 2 option is your choice.

Answer

Soldier’s Home by Ernest Hemingway 1925

Introduction

Soldier’s Home by Ernest Hemingway is a short story of Harold Krebs, an American soldier who has just recently returned home later than the other veterans after serving in World War 1. Upon returning to his small town in Oklahoma, Krebs notices that nothing has changed, yet everything about him has (Hemingway 3). He promptly realized that whenever he wants to talk about his experiences during the war, no one is willing to listen. People prefer to hear about the lies that the soldiers before him had proclaimed to the actualities of the war. Even his own parents are not an exception.

As expected, this situation makes him feel lonely; it is as if he has lost all ambition due to stress arising from the experiences of the war. This situation goes on for a month after his return. Finally, his mother shares her concerns and those of her husband, regarding Krebs’ stagnant life. They (his parents) feel that he needs to find something to do and a girl to marry in order to fully contribute to the society. The story ends with Krebs thinking about going away to Kansas City to look for a job, without seeing his father first. Meanwhile, he agrees to go and watch his sister Helen play indoor baseball before leaving. In this story analysis, focus is on three elements: setting, theme, and character.

Setting

The story is set in a small town in Oklahoma which is also the home of the protagonist, Harold Krebs. The time during which the story is set is the summer of 1919 at the end of World War 1. His father is in the real estate business, therefore, is rarely at home; his mother is a housewife. He has two younger sisters, one of whom he likes the most, called Helen. After his return from the war, Krebs spends most of his time at his home. Occasionally, he goes to the public library to do some reading, goes to the pool room to play pool and the clarinet.

Krebs comes home two years after all the veterans have returned, thus, receiving no welcome. Moreover, he has no companion to decompress from his experiences with. Seemingly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Harold Krebs reacts to the physical and temporal setting by developing a sense of withdrawal from the town, the people in it and from his home. When he finally decides to leave for Kansas City, Krebs makes it clear that the locality is only a place, not a home. In his view, he has lost his home to the experiences of the war. The home he once knew is no longer the one he is currently seeing, and neither are the inhabitants of his hometown.

Point of View

Hemingway, the omniscient narrator, chooses to tell the story from a third-person point of view. This not only allows readers into the thoughts and actions of the other characters in the story but also allows them to understand how the story is being told. This approach also allows the narrator to give the whole background and supplementary information that is relevant to the story. Consequently, readers are able to see the whole picture and appreciate that there are different aspects, people and sides of the story.

Theme

The most dominant theme in Hemingway’s Soldier’s Home is alienation. When Krebs returns home from the war two years after his fellow veterans, he is unable to interact with them the same way he did before the war. Unlike him, they have already had enough time to get relief from the traumatic events of the war. He feels alienated as he has no one to talk to. The people he would have easily talked to about his psychological problems have clearly moved on, married and with entered into stable jobs (Hemingway 8). He cannot talk to his mother about his wartime experiences either. We also see alienation in the way Krebs cannot bring himself to tell his mother the real truth about his new life, which is that the events of the war have hardened him and his heart just like the bacon fat that is hardening on his plate during breakfast (Hemingway 7).

Conclusion

By narrating Harold Krebs’s story through Soldier’s Home, Ernest Hemingway provides a candid depiction of what many soldiers had to go through after the end of World War 1. Many soldiers keep praying to go back to the home they had left behind alive and in one piece. However, the home they return often turns out to be different. These changes add to the stress the war veterans experience upon their return. Worse still, they are either alienated from the rest of the community or even cut off from mainstream social interactions completely. As Krebs’ story shows, many are not lucky enough to find someone that can walk with them through any rehabilitation process. Through Soldier’s Home, Hemingway, succeeded in letting the world know what it means to be part of a war and how hard it is to leave all the traumatic experiences behind and to settle down to a normal life like all other citizens.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. Soldier’s Home. London: Macmillan Publication Company, 1925. Print.

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