Themes and Stylistic Elements in Soldier's Home
Hemingway's short story Soldier's Home incorporates many themes and stylistic elements that we associate with Hemingway's writings. The story of the soldier returning from a traumatic war experience and trying to find a way to come to terms with the small-town life he used to live, after being initiated into the adult world of the war including life and death, is an essential theme in Hemingway's writings.
Part of the disillusionment that the character, Krebs, is met with has to do with his trouble in constructing or finding meaning in the concepts that he went to war for, which have now become empty to him:
All of the times that had been able to make him feel
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But apart from this, the story also incorporates a certain sense of betrayal. Lying seems to be a recurring thing to Krebs. Besides from being part of the failure to construct some sort of sense to the war, the lies also seem to be what prevents Krebs from constructing his life after the war. His sense of alienation from both the war and the small-town life is evident, in that he does not seem to regard the present in relation to his past. He does not remember himself as being in the war, but instead his past is constructed to us, the readers, and to him through pictures on the wall in the first two paragraphs. The first picture being that of his college experience, his past before the fall so to speak, and the second that of his time in the war. However, they are mere photographs and in their own sad construction they are useless to Krebs’ present life. Furthermore the experiences that Krebs has had in the war have matured him in such a way that he is unable to return to the simple lifestyle that he used to lead. Again, typical of Hemingway’s characters is this sense of a fall that makes them too knowledgeable and perhaps sometimes too self-aware to go back. (p. 113 "But here at home it was all too complicated. He knew he could never get through it all again.")
The question then becomes how to deal with this strange and newly required wisdom and what to replace the idealism with that was present