One of the most famous short stories that deals with the complexities of war is the historical narrative of Ernest Hemingway entitled “A Soldier’s Home. ” The story tells about the story of Krebs, who came back into his home in the state of Oklahoma two years after the war ended. In this case, the story tried top show how complex the world was for Krebs, especially because of his experiences while he was still in the battlefield.
As he comes into his hometown, the hysteria for all of the soldiers who went to fight against the axis powers in World War II was already over and many people seems disinterested in hearing more stories from the battlefield of the said war. In addition, the stories of Krebs were often mixed with lies and exaggerations, which lead him to likewise be disinterested with war stories. However, there was one more thing that Krebs was disinterested in, especially in, which was unusual even for the most battle hardened soldier: the disinterest for women.
This is because of the fact that it is said among soldiers that a man cannot live without women. However, it does not mean that Krebs is not interested with girls; on the contrary, he actually likes some of them. However, the point here is that he does not want to become involved in the lies present in courting girls. The story ended with Krebs forced into going to Kansas City and look for a job. This is due to the fact that his mother, as well as his sister, wants him to look for a job and marry, as what peers of his age actually does.
In this case, this essay would try to look at the story “A Soldier’s Home” from one of the critical strategies discussed in class: historical criticism. One of the most popular forms tools of literary analysis is the historical strategy, also known as “historical literary criticism” (“Historical Criticism” n. pag. ). This form or tool of literary criticism was popularized in the United States, especially after the Second World War. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, historical literary criticism is all about analyzing pieces of literature through
“…the light of historical evidence or based on the context in which a work was written, including facts about the author’s life and the historical and social circumstances of the time. This is in contrast to other types of criticism, such as textual and formal, in which emphasis is placed on examining the text itself while outside influences on the text are disregarded. New Historicism is a particular form of historical criticism…” (“Historical Criticism” n. pag. ). In this case, historical criticism actually studies literary pieces according to the lens of history, on the specific period where the piece of literature is actually written.
This is because of the fact that historical criticism places an important value on the social norm and the ideologies and ideas that where contemporary to the work, and that where influential on the literary piece. In addition, this kind of literary criticism places an important value on the author’s life, seeking to explain the specific social context of the e\author, which may have played an important part in influencing the main themes which can be seen in that author’s specific work.
This essay would aim to analyze the short story entitled “A Soldier’s Home” according to this critical literary tool. The MHS composition guide presents the different critical questions that are used in analyzing a piece of literature, and it would be used in this essay. According to the MHS, in analyzing a literary piece from the lens of historical literary analysis, it is important to ask: • What specific historical events were happening when the work was being composed? (See timelines in history or literature texts. )
• What historical events does the work deal with? • In what ways did history affect the writer’s outlook? • In what ways did history affect the style? language? content? (“MHS Approaches to Literary Criticism” n. pag. ). The time where Ernest Hemingway actually composed his works where the period between Post World War I and Post World War II. In this case, Hemingway actually witnessed the horrors of the First World War, where there was a dramatic loss of lives due to the mechanized and industrial nature of the war (“Ernest Hemingway in his Time” n. pag. ).
Take note that World War I was actually a very important event in human history, for it exposed the horrors of war in its fullest, and for a first time, was truly in a global scale. In addition, the machines that where used for industrial productivity, and which actually characterized the industrial revolution, where used for political means and for literally annihilating people on a very large scale, leaving an imprint to the people who experienced it, especially on the actual participants of the war, the soldiers who where in the battlefield (World War II, n. pag.
). This is fully described in the short story entitled “A Soldier’s Home. ” Take note of the fact that the central character, Krebs, actually viewed life as very complicated and so complex, in which he already finds disinterest not only in telling stories about the war, but also in losing interest in courting women. As said in the story, “Nothing was changed in the town except for the young girls had grown up. But they lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it.
He liked to look at them, though…He did not want them themselves really. They where too complicated. There was something else… He did not want to do any courting. He did not want to tell anymore lies. It wasn’t worth it. ” (Hemingway 88, 89) It can clearly be seen that Hemingway in this story actually deals with the shock of the war, with its effects on the participants who witnessed murder and horror and as a result, leading them to a very different view of the “normal” world where they where suddenly brought back into again.
This scenario truly reflects the attitude in Hemingway’s Post World War II era: an unsure future for the world, where the scars if the past two world wars are still felt in the memories of the people. However, there is also an attempt by the people, whatever hardships they may have felt during the war years, to start all over again. This can be seen in the last part of the short story, where the mother of Krebs strives to convince him to find a job and look for a wife. As stated in the story: “‘Your father is married too,’ his mother went on. ‘He thinks that you have lost your ambition, that you haven’t got a definite aim in life.
Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married. ‘the boys are settling down, they’re all determined to get somewhere; you can see that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to being really a credit to the community…But you are going to have to settle down to work, Harold’” (Hemingway 92). Truly, as the story shows, life goes on for the community despite the memories of the war still going on, and this is vividly described in the short story written by Hemingway. Meanwhile, the historical events that the works deals with refer to the period of the First World War.
In this case, Hemingway tries to show the story of a soldier who returned to his home in Oklahoma almost 2 years after the war was over. Hemingway also showed the difficulties that a direct participant of the war feels, as soon as he is thrown back into the normal world. As said in the introductory part of the short story, “Krebs went to war from a Methodist College in Kansas…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…the greeting of heroes was over.
He came back much too late. The men from the town who had been drafted had all been welcomed elaborately on their return…Now the reaction has set in. People think it was ridiculous for Krebs…years after the war was over” (Hemingway 87). ” This clearly shows the difficulties of transition; with the people directly involved in the war facing difficulties in coping with the challenges of a post war society, given the shock that they received in the battlefield.
I think personally think that the author was severely affected by the horrors of war, because of the fact that he directly experienced it; wherein his short story reflected the psychological and social difficulties that the direct participants of the war faced. This is because of the fact that Ernest Hemingway personally experienced the horrors of both world wars: he actually worked as a journalist in these times, and became a correspondent from the battlefields of the wars itself (“Ernest Hemingway in his Time” n. pag. ).
In addition, he also had an experience being a correspondent in the Spanish Civil War, seen as one of the preludes of the second world war, and as well as being one of the most brutal wars in recent history. With regards to the writing style, it must be noted that Ernest Hemingway was actually one of the founders of the modernist movements in literature, especially in the United States after the second world war, and was a contemporary of Gertrude Stein, William Faulkner, Marianne Moore, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, e. e. cummings, Virginia Woolf, and William Carlos Williams.
His style was characterized by ignoring excessive language characterized in romanticist works, focusing instead on a hard-edged, spare prose wherein he was “brutally honest” with his subjects, and was not tempted with sugarcoating and has a distinctively pro-masculine leaning (“Hemingway in his Time” n. pag,).
Works Cited: Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1995. Print. “Ernest Hemingway in his Time. ” lib. udel. edu. udel. edu, n. d. Web. “MHS Composition Guide. ” ci. maryville. tn. us. maryville. tn. us, n. d. Web. “Historical Criticism. ” britannica. com. Britannica, n. d. Web. “World War II. ” bbc. co. uk. bbc. co. uk, n. d. Web.
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