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Reading and Discussion Questions for Hemingway's "Soldier's Home"

1. What kind of person was Krebs before the war? What does the description in the first paragraph tell you about him? Why does the narrator mention that the fraternity brothers were all "wearing exactly the same height and style collar"?

2. How does the vision of Germany and the Rhine in the second paragraph contrast with the description in the first paragraph? What does this tell you about his experience?

3. Why does the story mention the names of these battles: "Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel . . . and the Argonne"? What experiences is Hemingway trying to evoke by using these names? In what ways was World War I different from previous wars?

4. Look closely at the language in this passage (or any other passage in the story): "Nothing was changed in the town except that the young girls had grown up. But they lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it. He liked to look at them, though. There were so many good-looking young girls. Most of them had their hair cut short. When he went away only little girls wore their hair like that or girls that were fast. They all wore sweaters and shirt waists with round Dutch collars. It was a pattern. He liked to look at them from the front porch as they walked on the other side of the street. He liked to watch them walking under the shade of the trees. He liked the round Dutch collars above their sweaters. He liked their silk stockings and flat shoes. He liked their bobbed hair and the way they walked" (349). What words or sentence patterns are repeated? What is conveyed by this repetition, and how does it help you to understand Krebs? What does he focus on as he watches the girls? Why does he find the "already defined alliances and shifting feuds" too "complicated" for him?

5. Krebs thinks a lot about "lies" in this story. What kinds of lies does he tell or refuse to tell? Why do they nauseate him? In what way might this be connected to his war experiences?

6. What is Krebs's relationship with his sister like? How does he respond differently to her than to the other girls or women in the story? What does she represent for him?

7. The scene with Krebs and his mother parallels the earlier scene with his sister, but his mother's demands provoke a very different reaction from him. What does she want from him? What is she afraid has happened to him? How does she seek to control him? Does she succeed?

8. Although Krebs's father and grandfather mentioned, all of the encounters shown in the story are those with women. Why might Hemingway shape the story in this way? What does Krebs think about the relationship between his father and his mother?

9. Why is this sentence in the story? "Krebs looked at the bacon fat hardening on his plate."

10. Why isn't Krebs grateful for the use of the car?

11. What do you think happens at the end of the story? Why does he decide to watch his sister play indoor baseball?