Soldier’s Home

The Girls Symbol Analysis

The Girls Symbol Icon

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

The Soldier’s Home quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Girls. 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

“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:
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“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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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The Girls Symbol Timeline in Soldier’s Home

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Girls 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
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... (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 about girls. One... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...of having a relationship with one is too complicated. He remembers the French and German girls who didn’t talk as much—relationships with them were simpler than he imagines they would be... (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 are walking by more if they were French or German. He thinks about how... (full context)
War and Trauma Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...girl and is finally settling down. She wants Krebs to drive his father’s car, take girls out in the evenings, and find a job. She then says that Krebs should stop... (full context)