11 November 2014
Viewing "Soldier's Home" Through Multiple Lenses
"Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway is a story of apathy, isolation, and
transformation. Viewing this story through multiple lenses helps one to see many other aspects of the story such as characterization, irony, and theme. These can best be explored through the biographical, formalist, and psychological lenses.
In “Ernest Hemingway” by David Daiches "Soldier's home" is viewed through a
biographical lens. Exploring this lens helps to clarify elements of characterization throughout the story. Ernest Hemingway was in WWI in Italy both as an ambulance driver and as a soldier and although he always claimed otherwise all of Hemingway's stories are biographical in some sense. The character from "Soldier's Home", Harold Krebs, shows that he would rather still be Germany, but has returned home instead. Daiches suggests that because Hemingway's writing so often was about Italy and Spain that he had a fixation on his time in the war and, like Krebs, was not satisfied with his civilian life at home.
Much like Hemingway, Krebs felt alone and isolated when he returned from the war. Krebs is apathetic toward almost everyone and everything; the only thing he finds comfort in is reading books about the war he has just come back from and looking at the maps. This is interesting in contrast to Hemingway because, "he was writing neither
guide books, travel posters, nor reminisces" (Daiches 176). Though his character had a rather potent fixation on maps, Hemingway was specific to never take part in creating anything of the sort. In the end Krebs decided to take his isolation, break through it, and take life one day at a time, working to get better; Hemingway was not so optimistic and ended his own life.
Anthony J. Petrarca examines "Soldier's Home" in “Irony of Situation in Ernest
Hemingway's ‘Soldier's Home’” though a formalist lens and focuses mainly on irony. There are many examples of irony throughout Hemingway's post war story. Petrarca discusses the photographs in the beginning of the story and believes that, "the irony of situation emerges from the juxtaposed photographs, the first portraying him prior to the war as the salt of the American earth Midwestern in religion; Midwestern in politics; Midwestern in mentality and attitude; and Midwestern in dress," (665). He goes on to discuss how the second photo shows the reality of war: the girls are not pretty, the supposedly beautiful Rhine is not even considered for the photo, and the uniforms are shabby (665). Even though all this is true, Krebs still wishes he could have stayed. The irony in this is that war is not a good place for people to be, yet it was the only place he really felt he belonged. Before the war Krebs wanted the traditional American lifestyle; go to college, get a wife, have 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence. After experiencing the cruelties of life through war, Krebs does not care about any of that. The only thing Krebs wants to do now is work on getting better, and maybe eventually he will want at least one of those things.
“Hemingway and Freud: The Tip of the Iceberg” by Kenneth G. Johnson looks at
Soldier's home through the psychological lens. Looking through the psychological lens one can more easily find the major themes though the story. When reading through, one may notice that though Kreb's enjoys watching the girls and says having one would be nice, he does not want to work to get one; this shows a clear sense of apathy. Krebs does not really care one way or another, (69). When talking to his mother later Krebs states that he is unable to love anyone and does not seemed to be bothered by this fact. He is very indifferent about what were major American values during this time. His mother, ...
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