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Reasons For Leaving

Coming back to what used to be home from an extremely traumatic war scenario creates a degree of alienation for any returning soldier. It is even more difficult when the soldier is a teenager whose life away at war is his first lengthy experience away from home. In ?Soldier?s Home? by Ernest Hemingway, Harold Krebs, who has had his moral views and beliefs altered by his life in the army, arrives home to a town that has not change much at all. Wanting to live a smooth life without any consequences, Krebs is disgruntled when nobody listens to him talk about the war, when he notices the pretty but complicated girls, and he finally decides to leave when he ends up making his mother cry.

When he first arrives home there is a lack of interest in Krebs? stories by the people in his town, which will lead to consequences that Krebs will have to deal with for the rest of his life. In an attempt to get anybody to listen to him he discovers that he has to start lying. After telling a couple of stories with lies that ?… consisted in attributing to himself things other men had seen, done, or heard of…? Krebs gains ?…a distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war…? (146). Because of these few false stories he has told, Krebs now has to deal with an emotional/mental state that ?nauseates? him every time he discusses or really even thinks about the war.

All he aims for while settling back in at home is a life without any consequences, which, because of his perspective of the town girls, means that he isn?t going to get involved with any. Though he enjoys looking at these ?good-looking young girls? he chooses not to act upon his desires to be with them. Krebs insists on having no ?consequences,? and therefore repeatedly attempts to persuade himself that he does not need a girl by telling himself that ?here at home it [is] all too complicated? (147). Krebs? utilizes self-talk and self disciplinary tactics that he learned in the army in order to resist desires that could cause unwanted complications in his life.

Striving for a life without complications or consequences Krebs realizes that it is time to go when his mother earnestly shows her concern and expresses how she feels about what he should be doing with his life. Krebs undoubtedly proves his disorientation caused by the war when he causes his mother to ?[cry] with her head in her hands? (150). By not being away at the war and experiencing its traumatic effects herself, Krebs? mother is unable to understand that her only son now sees life differently then when he was her religious highschool boy. When Krebs exclaims ?No? (150), he does not love his mother, he fathoms it is time to leave because he doesn?t feel as if he really fits in his home environment any longer.

Krebs undergoes a series of slight hardships, or difficulties in reaching his goal of minimal complications, throughout his months time back at home. Because his values have change so drastically through his time with the army and his experiences in the war Krebs feels that life would be less complicated for him if he were to just move away from his all too familiar hometown.


Hemingway, Ernest. ?Soldier?s Home.? The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins?s, 1999. 543-54.

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