Conflict in the Story Soldiers Home Essay

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Analyzing Conflict

Ernest Hemingway’s story titled “Soldier’s Home” features a youth, Harold Krebs who is unable to adapt and lead an ordinary life after returning from war. Akin to several fellow soldiers-turned-writers, Hemingway uses this tale to explain his own problems with adjusting to a civilian life after the war. Though Krebs does set store by the truth, circumstances and society coerce him into lying. The tale depicts, in an accurate manner, the contradiction between his personal values (which changed drastically following his experiences on the battlefield) and people’s expectations from him (he is expected to display compliance with societal values). Ultimately, Krebs resorts to a life of seclusion, alienating himself from love, ambition, societal relationships, and religion (LAGGC).

Several circumstances combine and give rise to the conflicts outlined in the story. But three elements, in particular, contribute significantly to Krebs’ conflict: the failure of Krebs’ hometown inhabitants to welcome him back like a hero; Krebs’ family’s failure to comprehend his woes and struggles; and Krebs’ very own nature and values which pose a challenge to his adapting to society (Temper).

Society contributes greatly to the conflict witnessed in the tale. The townsfolk regard Krebs’ exceedingly late return from battle peculiar. Krebs anticipates a grand welcome, which he fails to receive owing to his late arrival. This gives rise to feelings of betrayal within him; he could have died at war but nobody acknowledges him. As his community is not interested in real war-time stories, Krebs begins to avoid mingling with people.
Owing to his noncompliance with the societal rule that he seek employment and marry, society doesn’t accept him (Temper).

The second element contributing greatly to conflict within the tale is Krebs’ family. Krebs ceases to feel a sense of belongingness at home. His mother is unable to grasp the fact that he has endured anguish and struggle during the war. She attempts at persuading Krebs to seek employment like other men. Krebs doesn’t have faith in God any longer. He grapples with attempting to reconcile his personal war-connected feelings and his community’s perceptions of the war. "Krebs found that to be listened to at all he had to lie, and after he had done this twice he, too, had a reaction against the war and against talking about it. A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told" (Hemingway, 170). Both Hemingway (who fought in the First World War) and Krebs are coerced into telling lies with regard to their war-time experience simply so others would hear them out. Hemingway became accustomed to telling lies in this regard, and ultimately became disgusted by it: his deceit in sensationalizing the actual dullness of war kept….....

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Hemingway, Ernst. “Soldier’s Home, Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers.” Boni & Liveright: New York (1925).

Johnston, Kenneth G. The Tip of the Iceberg: Hemingway and the short story. Greenwood: The Penkevill Publishing Company, (1987). 75-79.

LAGGC. "Ernest Hemmingway research paper." (2011).

Meyers, Jeffrey. “Hemingway: A Biography.” New York: Harper and Row Publishers, (1985).

Temper, Kelly. "Factors in “Soldier’s Home” Conflict." Warehouse (n.d.): 3.


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