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The Soldiers Home by Ernest Hemingway Plot and Analysis

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What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life is not one definite thing for everybody, but through our different experiences and things that we’ve learned in our lifetime, we are able to find our purpose. Existentialism follows these ideas of finding our own way in life, unlike the philosophical idea of Nihilism which contains the belief that life is essentially meaningless. A Soldier’s Home by the author Ernest Hemingway is about the character Kreb’s return home from World War I and how the war had changed him and his return to the small-town life he used to live is difficult now that he has seen the real world and experienced traumatic events in the war.

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In a Soldier’s Home by Ernest Hemingway empathizes with the Lost Generation by using little emotion, repetition, and juxtaposition to emphasize the struggle soldiers have finding a purpose and returning to their former lives after coming back from war.

Through the use of little emotion, Hemingway relates to the Lost Generation to emphasize the struggle soldiers have finding a purpose and returning to their former lives after coming back from war. In the story, as the character Krebs returns to Oklahoma, his family begins to take notice into his change of character. When Krebs’ mother asks him, “don’t you love your mother dear boy?”, Krebs responds replies “no”. Hemingway’s decision for a straightforward reply reflects his writing style with how he is so direct while simultaneously creating the underlying meaning in that the traumatic events of the war has hardened him that the things from his past have become irrelevant in the sense, even his family, exemplifying little emotion. The story continues to go in this direction as Krebs’ mother tries to get Krebs to pray, which is something that they used to do before the war and Krebs’ mother offered to pray for him and he lets her. Krebs then thinks to himself that “he tried so to keep life from being complicated,” and that he “felt sorry for his mother and she had made him lie” (18). Krebs and his mother’s back-and-forth dialogue underscores Krebs’ ability to show little emotion while having a meaningful conversation with his mother.

Through the use of repetition and juxtaposition, Hemingway relates to the Lost Generation to emphasize the struggle soldiers have finding a purpose and returning to their former lives after coming back from war. When the character Krebs had noticed that “nothing was changed in the town” and how “they lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances … Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it” adds more to Krebs’ character because it further depicts his emotions of difficulty he feels as he tries to return to his old life. The juxtaposition further alienates Krebs as he comes back to the town he grew up in, but as a different person, so he has to figure out how this new version of himself can live the life he once knew.  

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