Briefly talk about the internal conflict of the protagonist at the Hemingway Soldiers’ House
"Soldier's Home" was one of Hemingway's early works, which was selected from collections of short stories “In Our Time”. Hemingway's unique writing method was initially identified in “In Our Time”, in which he would only describe protagonists’ surprises, fears, exciting actions or the event itself, rather than going directly to describe emotions." (P373) The plot of the story was so simple that when the protagonist Krebs returned back to his small home town Oklahoma, the hot wave to salute the conquering hero was already past. He found the people had heard too much about the war atrocities, but the real situation couldn’t arouse people’s interests. In order to make people listen to him he had to lie. Consequently, to tell a lie made him so sick about the war that he didn't want to talk about it anymore. Because he was lying, everything he experienced during the war now made him so tired. He found he could not integrate into small town life. (P381) So he became indifferent to all and separated himself from society. In this essay, the author will elaborate on three factors to describe protagonist’s inner-minds’ conflicts, e.g. the meaning of “Home”, war’s destruction for Krebs’ original belief, and changing situations in Krebs’ hometown.
"Home" in the eyes of people should be a warm place, the place where you could go back after getting hurt. But in this story, the protagonist found he’s unable to find the feeling of the past. (P167) Actually, there should be another layer of meaning for the story’s title itself that "soldier's home" were originally referred to those special care institutions in the United States in the early century, that war veterans or disabled old soldiers who had went to the civil war or American-Spanish War could live. These veterans were all day long speechless. As long as major festivals came, they would wear the old uniforms and full medals to show their glories. In fact they already became an alive antique for patriotic symbol. Like Krebs, the old veteran who had experienced the First World War, should be a completely different generation. Therefore Hemingway’s selection for such a title had a sense of irony if contrasting two different generations of veterans.
The war destroyed Krebs’ innocence and enthusiasm and washed out his original moral concepts and ideals. At the beginning of the story, Hemingway mentioned two pictures firstly. Author wrote: "Krebs went to the war from a Methodist college in Kansas. There is a picture which shows him among his fraternity brothers, all of them wearing exactly the same height and style collar. He enlisted in the Marines in 1917 and did not return to the United States until the second division returned from the Rhine in the summer of 1919. (1) "There is a picture which shows him on the Rhine with two German girls and another corporal. Krebs and the corporal look too big for their uniforms. The German girls are not beautiful. The Rhine does not show in the picture."(2) It is not hard to see in the pictures that the shooting time were different. One picture was taken before Krebs enlisted in the army when he was just a student, like all energetic young people, paying more attention to his appearance. The second picture was taken in war that “Krebs and the corporal look too big for their uniforms. The German girls are not beautiful." What caused this change? The authors did not specify it. But through reading the whole story, it would not be difficult for readers to see that it was war that changed Krebs and destroyed people’s innocence and enthusiasm. The story also mentioned that he was studying at the Methodist College. It meant that he also had his own belief and rule of life, which also foreshadowed for the follows. Hemingway did not insert any critics in this text, but secretly denounced the war impacts on people. Because of the war, he had to kill innocent people and lie. And all this was contradictory to his faith shaped before the war. But his new life rule had not been established, so he was getting confused with an empty heart. His pains became no more than numbing that he’s unable to unleash himself."He had been badly, sickeningly frightened all the time. In this way he lost everything (3) and conflicts of his inner mind rose up."
After returning home, Krebs found that very less people liked to listen to his war story, even his closest family’s members also did not, which once again triggered inner conflicts in his mind. "She often came in when he was in bed and asked him to tell her about the war, but her attention always wandered. His father was noncommittal."In the face of the real world indifference, he learned to live passively."He was sleeping late in bed, getting up to walk down town to the library to get a book, eating lunch at home, reading on the front porch until he became bored, and then, and then walking down through the town to spend the hottest hours of the day in the cool dark of the pool room. He loved to play pool. In the evening, he practiced on his clarinet, strolled down town, read, and went to bed."(4) Just a few simple words without any conclusion and rendering, the author didn’t explicitly tell the reader about protagonist’s empty, boring and depressed mind. What seemed to be omitted, but the reader will be felt strongly that the places he omitted, as if the author had already seen it." (P4) When Krebs saw girl walking across the street, he knew he liked them, but didn't want to walk up to chat. He just stood on the front porch. He even didn't have the courage or a bit shy? The story told "they were too complicated," "he did not want to have to spend a long time getting her,” “he did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live alone without consequences." "But the world they were in was not the world he was in."(6) It could be easy for reader to see that he had already separated himself incompatible from the real world as if he did not belong to this world. Such application simple method of repeat disclosed Krebs’s empty and depressed minds. War made his life aimless so that he would like escape society and hide himself in a "self" world. His heart was seemingly motionless, but concealing deep sorrow.
Until the story end when his mother tried to persuade him to search for a job, then he discovered that he already had lost the ability of love, even love for his mother. This old veteran who just returned from the war understood that he had to leave again. The story wrote, “God has some work for everyone to do,” his mother said. “There can be no idle hands in His Kingdom.” "I'm not in His Kingdom,” Krebs said. "We are all of us in His Kingdom." (7) He was no longer the young man when he’s studying Methodist College. He didn't have his own belief and his spiritual world was a wilderness. But his mother did not understand trauma the war brought to her son. And she just hoped her son could get a job and find a girlfriend as other youths did. In the face of Krebs' indifference to her words, mom was getting so disappointed that she asked him if he still loved her. ”Is that all?” Krebs said. Yes. Don’t you love your mother, dear boy?” ”No,” Krebs said. His mother looked at him across the table. Her eyes were shiny. She started crying. “I don’t love anybody.” Krebs said. (8) In their conversations, in addition to the contents of the dialogue, all other attachments related to mood, movement, expression, intonation had been omitted. Seemingly there were no artistic colors, however, from the two short conversations; it could realize Krebs’ emotions at that time of his numbness, emptiness and pains.