Upon returning home, Krebs spends a significant amount of time sitting on his front porch and watching the local girls walk by. Lacking any individual character of their own, 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. In their talkative behavior, the girls further highlight Krebs’s own stoic emptiness and resultant failure at intimacy and connection. He does not want to connect with them precisely because he does not want to talk to them—he sees the girls as complicated, emotional, and chatty. In contrast, he is quiet, stoic, and numb.
When his mother encourages Krebs to take a girl out in the family car, she is pressuring him to participate in this normal life, but again, Krebs wants to remain at a distance. He doesn’t want to face the complications or consequences that he believes arise from this normal, societal sphere. Thus, the girls at once represent what Krebs sees as typical life and expose Krebs’s own situation of alienation after the war.
The Girls Quotes in Soldier’s Home
“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.”
“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.”