Soldier’s Home

Soldier’s Home Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Ernest Hemingway's Soldier’s Home. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was born just outside of Chicago in the town of Oak Park. After high school, he reported for the Kansas City Star, then went to work in World War I as a Red Cross Ambulance driver. There, on the Italian Front, he got injured, and stayed in a hospital in Milan, where he fell in love with a nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky Stanfield, who is said to have inspired the character Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms. This nurse broke Hemingway’s heart when he finally returned home at twenty years old. At home, he received a Silver Medal of Bravery. He worked at the Toronto Star, moved to Chicago, and married Hadley Richardson in September 1921. With Richardson, Hemingway moved back to Paris to work as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. In Paris, he became part of the elite expatriate literary community, called the “Lost Generation,” spending time with Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. During this time in Paris, Hemingway wrote and published Soldier’s Home in the anthology “Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers.” He divorced Richardson, married Pauline Pfeiffer, and moved to Key West, Florida in 1928. In 1937, after spending a decade traveling and writing, he became a correspondent in the Spanish Civil War. He eventually met the journalist Gellhorn, whom he married and lived with in Cuba, though he later divorced her for a different journalist, Mary Welsh, his final wife whom he married in 1946. His injuries on two plane crashes in Africa, along with his alcoholism, led his health to continue deteriorating. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1961, in his home in Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway shot himself in the head.
Get the entire Soldier’s Home LitChart as a printable PDF.
Soldier s home.pdf.medium

Historical Context of Soldier’s Home

Hemingway is part of both the Lost Generation—a group of expatriate writers living in Paris—and the Modernist tradition. His particular breed of Modernism revolves around the “Iceberg Theory,” which he coined, inspired by imagism, a twentieth-century poetry movement that favored imagery, precision and sharp language. Ezra Pound was one of the inaugural poets that preached imagistic techniques. Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory” favors language that is unemotional, stark, and focused on immediate, concrete details. It is characterized further by dialogue, silence, and action. He does not elaborate upon feelings and desires, but suppresses them under the surface of his language. Hemingway was also writing at the time of two major wars, both World War I, which inspired Soldier’s Home, and World War II. He was involved in both, as an ambulance driver and war reporter, as well as being involved in the Spanish Civil War. The combined experience of being in war and being in the midst of these literary movements led Hemingway to believe in truth as the most important element in writing. He was committed to telling the facts as they were.

Other Books Related to Soldier’s Home

“Soldier’s Home” was published first in “Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers,” an anthology that included works by Joyce, Stein and Pound—other famous Modernist writers that participated in the expatriate community of which Hemingway was part in Paris. The other stories Hemingway wrote at this time were included in his first short story collection, In Our Time, published in 1924. Though Krebs appears only once in this collection, Hemingway’s most famous recurring character, Nick Adams, appears in a story about returning home from war, Big Two-Hearted River. Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, follows Jake Barnes, who, like Krebs, suffers an inability to express his traumatic and painful experience in the war, with the war haunting the backdrop of this story just as it does Soldier’s Home. The sense of post-war depression and fracture is also abundant in T.S. Eliot’s poetry, especially in The Waste Land, which captures the feelings of disintegration and nihilism that infected the world after the watershed event that was World War I. Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein hugely influenced Hemingway’s development of an understated, stark, monosyllabic style—their works allowed him to really hone the discipline of his craft. Hemingway’s famous “Iceberg Theory,” a term coined for his minimalist style that omits emotional or florid language and focuses instead on immediate details, went on to inspire many other writers, such as Joan Didion and Raymond Carver.
Key Facts about Soldier’s Home
  • Full Title: Soldier’s Home
  • When Written: 1924
  • Where Written: Paris, France
  • When Published: 1925
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre: Short story, Modernist fiction
  • Setting: Krebs’ hometown in Oklahoma
  • Climax: In the kitchen, when Krebs’ mother asks him if he loves her and he says no
  • Antagonist: The tormenting aftereffects of war, the struggle to adjust to home, depression
  • Point of View: Third person, though a very limited third person. The narrator often seems completely inside Krebs’ head, in moments that are typically called free indirect discourse.

Extra Credit for Soldier’s Home

Short film. The short story was adapted into an American short film in 1977, broadcast on PBS. It stars Richard Backus as Krebs and was directed by Robert Young.

The Kansas City Star. Krebs reads the Kansas City Star newspaper in his kitchen in the morning—the same paper that Hemingway wrote for after high school. The mention of it imbues the story with an autobiographical connection between Krebs and Hemingway.