Everyone prays that there is no fallen soldier and that every volunteered soldier returns home as good as new. “Soldier’s Home”, a short story, about a soldier named Kreb returning home in good conditions. Although, Kreb returned home the way he left he came home to a few controversies. Nothing had changed about his hometown except him. Kreb was not viewed as a hero and no one wanted to hear his war stories.
Kreb’s hometown staying the same and him changing caused controversies within himself and his family. War changes people and it is made clear that it definitely changed Kreb through the plot, symbolism, and setting.
War changes people and it is seen to have changed Kreb through the plot of “Soldier’s Home”. The plot of this short story deals mostly with Kreb’s internal feelings. After being gone for a while to fight in a war Kreb feels out of place at home.
No one seems to be able to understand him being that he returned from the war way after many other soldiers. Kreb feels that in order to gain attention he must lie about his experiences which causes them to lose moral value. It is clear this effects Kreb’s internal feelings. Him feeling alienated effected his feelings so much that he even tells his mother that he does not love her because she tried pushing him to change and become a part of the society rather then be a by stander.
Kreb does not express his inner feelings giving people no room to help him, which is why he feels alienated in his hometown. As stated by a literary critic it is clear that, “He is unable to come to terms with his experiences in the war, mostly because there is no one in his town (especially not his family) with whom he can figure out the truth of his feelings” (“Rareynolds”).
War changes people and it is seen to have changed Kreb through the use of symbolism in “Soldier’s Home”. The first use of symbolism in the story is the two pictures of Kreb. The first picture of him and his fraternity brothers symbolizes how he used to fit in, while the second picture of him as a Marine symbolizes change and showing an experience. “The pictures are items that supposedly neatly contain, within their four corners, discrete parts of Krebs’s past. Yet their failure to reflect meaningful or recognizable markers of the soldier’s experiences suggest that the past is far more slippery and uncontainable than the photographs imply it to be. Indeed, despite Krebs’s attempt to suppress it, the past seeps into his present life throughout the story” (“Atwood”). His past is the cause of his self-isolation and almost takes over his present life. Throughout the story Kreb avoids new attachments and commitments. He does not want to pursue a relationship in girls nor is he interested in finding a job. The given description of how Kreb lives his daily life symbolizes why he feels alienated. Unlike everyone else in town, Kreb is free of responsibility and lives his life with little to no involvement with people. The way Kreb spends his time is symbolic to his inner self. Kreb does not wish for involvement in life due to his war experiences. He sees involvement in life as an opportunity for consequences that he does not want. He symbolically shows he is emotionally frustrated and his disheartened attitude to avoid commitment through his actions. “The girls broadly represent the “normal” life and society of which Krebs is no longer a part. Krebs has no desire to actually talk with the girls, and his insistence on staying at a distance reflects his inability or refusal to engage with the world he left behind, as well as the ways in which the trauma of war has distanced him from the potential for a typical life” (“Atwood”). Not only do the girls show Kreb avoiding interaction with people and commitment, but they also symbolize a normal life in his hometown.
War changes people and it is seen to have changed Kreb with the help of the setting throughout “Soldier’s Home”. The title of the story says so much by itself. There is no feeling like one of a soldier coming home. This contributes to the theme, but not in positive way. Kreb being the soldier that came home does not feel at home. He changed, but his home did not. Kreb feels as if he no longer fits in his home’s setting causing him to remove hisself. The setting of his hometown makes him feel alienated because no one can help get him back involved into his society due to his self-isolation. “One of the most profound effects, then, of setting is that Krebs, who is clearly suffering from what we know now as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can find neither anyone with whom to share his experiences nor anyone who understands why he might need time to adjust to civilian life in a small town. His response to this circumstance is to withdraw” (“Holliday”). This is the reasoning for Kreb sleeping in bed late and avoiding interaction with people. It also shows how war changed Kreb.
War changes people whether it be a change for good or bad. In this case war did not have a positive effect on Kreb. It caused Kreb to isolate himself from society. Every soldier dreams about they day they get to return home from war to their family, but will their home still feel like home? Will they feel like an outcast or as if they do not fit in? Being a soldier must be tough, but you must learn how to adapt to different societies to lessen the chances of you not fitting in. Being that Kreb could not adapt back to his home he moved out of time to better himself so he could prosper. “Adaptation is a profound process. It means you figure out how to thrive in the world.” -John Laroche
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