Soldier’s Home

by

Ernest Hemingway

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Harold Krebs Character Analysis

The story’s protagonist, Krebs is a young soldier struggling to readjust to life at home following World War I. At first, Krebs feels as though he cannot discuss his experience in the war, and then, when he finally does want to talk about it, he finds that no one wants to listen to him. In an attempt to be heard, he resorts to lying about his experiences, but this just makes him feel increasingly empty, apathetic, and numb, unable to relate to others in his town or his family. Krebs suffers a distinct lack of ambition and motivation, instead busying himself with watching the girls in his town walk by his house, sleeping, reading, practicing the clarinet, and eating. Through Krebs, Hemingway paints of picture of the way many soldiers struggle to adjust to home after experiencing war. Ironically, what Krebs struggles most with in the story is clarifying his individual experiences. The idea that he represents not just himself, but many, then, ironically robs him of his individuality further still.

Harold Krebs Quotes in Soldier’s Home

The Soldier’s Home quotes below are all either spoken by Harold Krebs or refer to Harold Krebs. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Trauma Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Soldier’s Home published in 1998.
Soldier’s Home Quotes

“At first Krebs, who had been at Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel and in the Argonne did not want to talk about the war at all. Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

“All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else, now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

“Krebs acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is the result of untruth or exaggeration…”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

“He did not want to do any courting. He did not want to tell any more lies. It wasn’t worth it. He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live without consequences.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs
Related Symbols: The Girls, The Porch
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

“He sat on the porch reading a book about the war…He wished there were more maps. He looked forward with a good feeling to reading all the really good histories when they would come out with good detail maps. Now he was really learning about the war. He had been a good soldier. That made a difference.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs
Related Symbols: The Porch
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

“Aw, Hare, you don’t love me. If you loved me, you’d want to come over and watch me play indoor.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs, Helen
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

“Your father does not want to hamper your freedom. He thinks you should be allowed to drive the car. If you want to take some of the nice girls out riding with you, we are only too pleased.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs, Krebs’s Father
Related Symbols: The Car, The Girls
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

“His mother looked at him across the table. Her eyes were shiny. She started crying.”

Related Characters: Harold Krebs, Krebs’s Mother
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

“So his mother prayed for him and then they stood up and Krebs kissed his mother and went out of the house. He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated. Still, none of it had touched him…He wanted his life to go smoothly. It had just gotten going that way. Well, that was over now, anyway. He would go to the schoolyard and watch Helen play indoor baseball.”

Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
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Soldier’s Home PDF

Harold Krebs Character Timeline in Soldier’s Home

The timeline below shows where the character Harold Krebs appears in Soldier’s Home. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Soldier’s Home
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Krebs enlists in World War I after attending a Methodist college in Kansas. There are two... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
When Krebs comes home, he does not receive the same elaborate, celebratory welcome as the other soldiers.... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
In order to get people to listen to him talk about the war, Krebs lies twice about his experiences. Because Krebs lies, he develops a “distaste for everything that... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
The lies Krebs tells are  “quite unimportant,” and therefore unimpressive. The effect of the lying makes Krebs feel... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Since his return, Krebs spends his time sleeping late, going to the library, eating, reading, and playing in the... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Krebs’s father, who works in real estate, has a motor car that Krebs was not allowed... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
The only thing that has changed in town is that the girls have grown up. Krebs lacks the energy to “break into” their world, but appreciates the way they look—their short... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
As Krebs watches the girls, he thinks about the soldiers he knew in the war who talked... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Though Krebs would like a girl, he thinks that the prospect of having a relationship with one... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
As Krebs continues to sit on the porch, he thinks how he would like the girls who... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Still sitting on the porch, Krebs reads a book about the war, learning about the battles he was in. He likes... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
One morning at home, Krebs’s mother comes into his bedroom and tells him that she talked with his father. They’ve... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Krebs goes downstairs for breakfast and his sister Helen teases him about sleeping a lot. She... (full context)
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Helen tells Krebs that she is playing indoor baseball that afternoon, and she brags about being a better... (full context)
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
Krebs’s mother ushers Helen out of the kitchen, as she wants to speak with Krebs alone.... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Krebs’s mother continues, explaining that she knows how war must affect young men, as her father... (full context)
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
Krebs’s mother asks Krebs if he loves her. He responds no, and she starts crying, putting... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Language of Suppression Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Lies and Society Theme Icon
Krebs then kisses his mother and leaves the house, reflecting that his mother made him lie... (full context)