Essay, Research Paper: Soldier`s Home

Literature: Ernest Hemingway

Free Literature: Ernest Hemingway research papers were donated by our members/visitors and are presented free of charge for informational use only. The essay or term paper you are seeing on this page was not produced by our company and should not be considered a sample of our research/writing service. We are neither affiliated with the author of this essay nor responsible for its content. If you need high quality, fresh and competent research / writing done on the subject of Literature: Ernest Hemingway, use the professional writing service offered by our company.

He knew he could never get through it all again. "Soldier's Home"
"I don't want to go through that hell again." The Sun Also Rises In
the works of Ernest Hemingway, that which is excluded is often as significant as
that which is included; a hint is often as important and thought-provoking as an
explicit statement. This is why we read and reread him. "Soldier's
Home"is a prime example of this art of echo and indirection. Harold Krebs,
the protagonist of "Soldier's Home," is a young veteran portrayed as
suffering from an inability to readjust to society--Paul Smith has summarized
previous critics on the subject of how Krebs suffers from returning to the
familial, social, and religious"home"(71). Moreover, as Robert Paul
Lamb notes, the story is also about "a conflicted mother-son
relationship"(29). Krebs' small-town mother cannot comprehend her son's
struggles and sufferings caused by the war. She devotes herself to her religion
and never questions her own values; she manipulates her son. She is one of the
Hemingway "bitch mothers" who also appear in "The Doctor and the
Doctor's Wife" and "Now I Lay Me." Her sermons to her son lack
any power to heal his spiritual wounds. She has determined that Krebs should
live in God's "Kingdom," find a job, and get married like a normal
local boy (SS 151). Although Hemingway locates the story in Oklahoma and
excludes it from the Nick Adams group, the husband and wife relationship
observed in"Soldier's Home"is also similar to those in "The
Doctor and the Doctor's Wife" and "Now I Lay Me," revealing the
mother's dominance of a troubled marriage. Krebs' noncommittal father is
obviously dominated by his wife; she makes the decisions. Her advocacy of
marriage for Krebs is ironic: not yet recovered from his various psychic wounds
and trapped by the sick marriage of his parents, marriage is the very commitment
he must avoid. Furthermore, a careful reading of "Soldier's Home"
reveals yet another story discernible beneath the main one. Krebs' indifference
towards the girls in the town seems to reflect his disillusionment not only with
the war and his parents' marriage, but also with another experience--Krebs'
breaking up with a lover: Now he would have liked a girl if she had come to him
and not wanted to talk. But here at home it was all too complicated. He knew he
could never get through it all again. (147-48) Here is a significant ambiguity:
"it all" may well connote the whole process of being and ceasing to be
a lover, and "again" suggests that Krebs has been through this process
before. Descriptions of Krebs' lack of involvement with the local girls occupy
one fourth of the story. These descriptions converge around the word
"complicated," repeated four times in this context. The girls live in
"a complicated world" (148); "They were too complicated"
(148); "it [to talk to a girl] is too complicated" (149); and "He
had tried so to keep his life from being complicated"(152). The latter
quotation suggests that the most difficult problem is not the complicated realm
of the girls, but Krebs' fear of the complexity that might result from any
approach he might make. Once he talks to a girl, he must get through a
complicated sexual encounter all over again. Conversations, for Krebs, make the
male/female sexual relationship complicated. His aversion to such relationships,
we are to infer, derives from previous experiences with women that have perhaps
reinforced his observations of his parents' marriage. As many have noted (see
Smith 71-72), one of the photographs discussed in the story's opening paragraphs
suggests an unsatisfactory experience with German girls. Krebs and another
corporal, both in poorly fitting uniforms, stand with two German girls Who are
"not beautiful"beside a Rhine that "does not show in the
picture"(145).[1] The picture suggests an irony: the American soldiers,
once enemies, date German girls with whom they share no common language. Because
the American soldiers do not have to talk, and because the German girls are
probably prostitutes, relationships between them are uncomplicated. Without any
need for conversation, the soldiers simply satisfy their lust on the
prostitutes' bodies. Just as he emphasizes the German girls' lack of beauty,
Hemingway also erases the Rhine to show the lack of romance in such
relationships. In "Soldier's Home," he juxtaposes two worlds: the
simple one Krebs shared with the German girls, and the potentially complicated
realm of the hometown girls. "A Very Short Story," written between
June and July 1923, helps shed light on this aspect of the later "Soldier's
Home," composed in April 1924. An equally bleak story, also a mixture of
Hemingway's own experiences and fictitious material, "A Very, Short
Story" appeared first as the untitled Chapter Ten in the 1924 three
mountains press in our time, and was later titled and revised for inclusion in
the 1925 Scribner's In Our Time. The crucial difference between the two versions
is that the name of the protagonist's lover has been changed from Ag in the 1924
edition to Luz in the 1925 edition. It is well known that the love affair
between a wounded soldier and a nurse, as well as the miserable end of that
affair, are based on Hemingway's own experience of being jilted by Agnes von
Kurowsky. However, the story's conclusion, where the protagonist has a sexual
encounter with a sales girl in a taxicab and contracts gonorrhea, is considered
fictitious. As Robert Scholes and Scott Donaldson have observed, this conclusion
reflects Hemingway's undisguised anger towards "Ag" and his own
self-pity. Taking some expressions and ideas directly from Agnes' "Dear
John" letter of 7 March 1919 (qtd. in Villard and Nagel 163-64), Hemingway
drew the raw materials for "A Very Short Story" from his own
experience. If "A Very Short Story" is one version of Hemingway's
unhappy love affair with Agnes, "Soldier's Home" may be another--more
sophisticated because its author's bitterness is more sublimated. The
"it" in "never get through it all again" may fruitfully be
interpreted as Hemingway's suffering after he received the letter from Agnes. He
describes Krebs' self-protective attitude, his aversion to being trapped by
another love affair that may bring him new pain: "It was not worth it. Not
now when things were getting good again" (148). Krebs does not want to be
disturbed; it is good enough for him simply to "look at" girls on the
street (147,148). He is able to keep his mind peaceful by avoiding talking to
the girls. Although the first part of the story suggests that some of Krebs'
trauma has been caused by the war, a related and complementary inference is that
he may also be recovering from the shocks of a failed love affair. In The Sun
Also Rises, Brett Ashley speaks of her inner torment--"I don't want to go
through that hell again" (SAR 26)--in language that echoes Krebs'. Brett
rebuffs Jake. Because of his impotence, Jake and Brett can never fully satisfy
each other. "That hell again" suggests both their unconsummated love
affair and their suffering from the hesitant and inconsequential encounters they
have already experienced. Both Krebs and Brett decline to repeat such
experiences. When we consider the intentionality behind Hemingway's
intertextuality, we realize that both characters share a deep wound. In
"Soldier's Home," Hemingway avoids any explicit description of what
happened to Krebs during the war, especially in the matter of the love affair.
Instead, Hemingway portrays Krebs' postwar reaction to the town girls, and we
note his condition and behavior, and infer a cause. Both the physical distance
between Krebs and the girls and his role as onlooker give him a sense of
security. While Krebs remains in a safety zone "on the front porch,"
he is protected. The girls walk "on the other side of the street";
nothing can touch him (147-48). Like sophisticated Brett Ashley, these
small-town Oklahoma girls celebrate a new era with short skirts and short hair.
Krebs admires them, yet he protects himself from the danger of sexual
involvement as if he were still suffering from a previous affair. He has to
control himself. Only as an onlooker can he avoid the "complicated
world": But they [the girls] lived in such a complicated world of already
defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or
courage to break into it.(147) Ironically, Hemingway uses the terms
"alliances" and "feuds," words appropriate to conflicts
between nations and families, to describe the girls' complicated world.
Moreover, he uses related terms to describe Krebs' feelings towards that world:
"He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics" (147). By
emphasizing discord and friction, such terms suggest a conflict already
experienced by Krebs, a conflict further revealed as follows: He did not want
any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live
along without consequences. Besides he did not really need a girl. (147) The
repetition of "consequences" sounds too portentous for the previous
problem to have been a merely casual love affair. The discontinuity between
Krebs' prewar and postwar periods is obvious. Through the experience of battle,
he seems to have lost his belief in God and the Kingdom which his mother claims.
Krebs is isolated, having lost all feeling of belonging or togetherness. But he
is attracted by the girls' "patterns" which represent their
identification with a group, an identification he once shared. Perhaps his is a
bitter and only half-realized nostalgia. Here is a veteran, a possibly
heartbroken young man, who keeps himself away from the complex world, stays on
the porches, and simply watches girls on the street. However, Krebs makes an
exception for his young sister Helen. She is accepted in his realm. She extracts
his pledge to be her "beau"(150). On a superficial level, she seems to
be just another girl attempting to pull him into a complex world; however, in
her innocence she intends no such thing. An incestuous relationship between
brother and sister is suggested in Hemingway's later, posthumously published
work "The Last Good Country" and its related manuscripts (NAS 70-132).
But here, in "Soldier's Home," there is no hint of incest. The
brother-sister relationship remains a simple form of love in "Soldier's
Home."The young sister's love for her brother is a mixture of respect and
innocent affection. Her regard and love have a healing effect on Krebs. Although
she is as talkative as her mother, Helen's invitation is to a simple world.
Moreover, Krebs, who has yet to exchange a word with the girls in the town,
enjoys talking with his sister because there is no danger of being trapped in
the complex man-woman world. Krebs simply accepts her invitation, and goes to
the schoolyard to see her pitch, as proof of their mutual love. Thus,
"Soldier's Home" is a sophisticated story of a variously wounded
veteran's return home. While "A Very Short Story" is a relatively
explicit story of heartbreak, revealing biographical raw materials and the
author's anger, "Soldier's Home" is a more refined and distanced
treatment of Hemingway's own experiences during and after the war. Later, these
same experiences, more refined and distanced still, will find expression in
perhaps the ultimate veteran's story, "Big Two-Hearted River."

Bibliography
Donaldson, Scott. "'A Very Short Story' As Therapy." Hemingway's
Neglected Short Fiction: New Perspectives. Ed. Susan F. Beegel. Tuscaloosa: U of
Alabama P, 1992. 99-105. Hemingway, Ernest. in our time. Paris: three mountains
press, 1924. -----. In Our Time. New York: Scribner's, 1925. -----. The Nick
Adams Stories. New York: Scribner's, 1972. -----. The Short Stories of Ernest
Hemingway. 1938. New York: Collier, 1987. -----. The Sun Also Rises. 1926. New
York: Scribner's, 1970. Kennedy, J. Gerald and Kirk Curnutt."Out of the
Picture: Mrs. Krebs, Mother Stein, and 'Soldier's Home.'" The Hemingway
Review 12.1 (Fall 1992): 1-11. Lamb, Robert Paul. "The Love Song of Harold
Krebs: Form, Argument, and Meaning in Hemingway's 'Soldier's Home.'" The
Hemingway Review 14.2 (Spring 1995): 18-36. Scholes, Robert. Semiotics and
Interpretation. New Haven: Yale UP, 1981. Smith, Paul. A Reader's Guide to the
Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1989. Villard, Henry
Serrano and James Nagel. Hemingway in Love and War. Boston: Northeastern UP,
1989. Donaldson, Scott. "'A Very Short Story' As Therapy." Hemingway's
Neglected Short Fiction: New Perspectives. Ed. Susan F. Beegel. Tuscaloosa: U of
Alabama P, 1992. 99-105. Hemingway, Ernest. in our time. Paris: three mountains
press, 1924. -----. In Our Time. New York: Scribner's, 1925. -----. The Nick
Adams Stories. New York: Scribner's, 1972. -----. The Short Stories of Ernest
Hemingway. 1938. New York: Collier, 1987. -----. The Sun Also Rises. 1926. New
York: Scribner's, 1970. Kennedy, J. Gerald and Kirk Curnutt."Out of the
Picture: Mrs. Krebs, Mother Stein, and 'Soldier's Home.'" The Hemingway
Review 12.1 (Fall 1992): 1-11. Lamb, Robert Paul. "The Love Song of Harold
Krebs: Form, Argument, and Meaning in Hemingway's 'Soldier's Home.'" The
Hemingway Review 14.2 (Spring 1995): 18-36. Scholes, Robert. Semiotics and
Interpretation. New Haven: Yale UP, 1981. Smith, Paul. A Reader's Guide to the
Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1989. Villard, Henry
Serrano and James Nagel. Hemingway in Love and War. Boston: Northeastern UP,
1989.
1
1
Good or bad? How would you rate this essay?
Help other users to find the good and worthy free term papers and trash the bad ones.
Like this term paper? Vote & Promote so that others can find it

Get a Custom Paper on Literature: Ernest Hemingway:

Free papers will not meet the guidelines of your specific project. If you need a custom essay on Literature: Ernest Hemingway: , we can write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written papers will pass any plagiarism test, guaranteed. Our writing service will save you time and grade.




Related essays:

0
1
Literature: Ernest Hemingway / Sun Also Rises And Hemingway Hero
Prevalent among many of Ernest Hemingway's novels is the concept popularly known as the "Hemingway hero", an ideal character readily accepted by American readers as a "man's man". ...
2677 views
0 comments
0
0
Literature: Ernest Hemingway / Sun Also Rises Appreciation
I cannot express to you how glad I am that I am taking this class. I am thoroughly enjoying Hemingway. The Sun Also Rises is one of the best books I've read in quite a long time. For a while there, I ...
2526 views
0 comments
0
0
Literature: Ernest Hemingway / Sun Also Rises By Hemingway
Madam Adam: Hemingway’s exploration of Man in The Sun Also Rises ‘It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’ the man said. ‘It’s not really an operation at all.’ Much of Hemingway’s body of work g...
3451 views
0 comments
0
0
Literature: Ernest Hemingway / Sun Also Rises Title
The Sun Also Rises as it applies to the novel as a whole The novel The Sun Also Rises is set directly after World War I. This was a time of confusion for mankind. It can metaphorically be compared to ...
3172 views
0 comments