Krebs’s front porch symbolizes passivity and stagnancy. From the porch, he watches and observes people walk by, such as the girls, and yet he remains on the periphery. Being on the edge of the street, the porch represents a sense of separation and idleness—sitting there, Krebs feels no desire to take part in the goings-on of his town and the “real world.” Instead, he is content to be a passive observer. The porch itself is also a stationary and private space. It has clear borders that set it apart from the public sphere, and thus protect Krebs within his own stagnant existence. Krebs can take refuge by sitting on the porch, where he can watch the public world pass by without feeling any pressure to participate in it.
Furthermore, Krebs reads a book about the war while sitting on the porch. This is fitting, as the activity of reading is also a way of seeing another world without actually being inside it. Of course, the fact that the book that Krebs reads is about the war—a space that he did occupy—suggests his desire to look upon his time in battle from the outside in. That is, he wants not only to remove himself from the outside world, but to distance himself from his personal, internal experiences. Similarly, though Krebs feels removed from society and at peace when sitting on the porch, he is of course still squarely within his hometown, in his own house, and suffers due to the expectations his mother and father still have of him. The porch can only do so much to provide the comfort of distance, to pose as something that keeps him peacefully on the periphery of American society. Krebs feels a distinct sense of dislocation because the worlds he reads about or observes from the safety porch—both the girls’ world and that of the war—are still very much his own.
The Porch 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.”
“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.”