"Soldier's Home" is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. It was included in the 1925 Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers and published by Boni & Liveright in Hemingway's 1925 New York collection short stories, In Our Time.
The story is about Harold Krebs, a young soldier returning home to Oklahoma after seeing action in five of the bloodiest World War I battles: Battle of Belleau Wood, Soissons, Champagne, Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Argonne. Krebs lives with his parents who treat him as they did before he left for war, unable to understand his post-war trauma and depression.
Style and themes
In the 1920s, Hemingway was inspired by Ezra Pound's writings and applied the poet's principles of imagism to his own early work. Hemingway's short stories from the 1920s adhere to Pound's tight definition of imagism; biographer Carlos Baker writes that in his short stories Hemingway tried to learn how to "get the most from the least, [to] prune language, [to] multiply intensities, [to] tell nothing but the truth in a way that allowed for telling more than the truth". Hemingway adapted this style into a technique he called his iceberg theory: as Baker describes it, the hard facts float above water while the supporting structure, including the symbolism, operates out of sight.
Kreb's reactions to his war experience, his depression, are not explicitly mentioned in the story, rather the number of battles he fought in are stated. His fundamentalist parents fail to understand the source of his misery, his mother asking him to kneel in prayer. The town's citizens are similarly unable to understand and are disinterested in returning servicemen, after having had parades for those who returned earlier. The reader infers from these situations Kreb's state of distress. In the end, he thinks he will leave for Kansas City to find a job.
- Oliver, (1999), 308
- Meyers (1985), 74, 126
- Benson (1975), 285–287
- Baker (1972), 117
- Baker, Carlos (1981). Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters 1917–1961. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-16765-7
- Benson, Jackson (1975). "Ernest Hemingway as Short Story Writer". in Benson, Jackson (ed). The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: Critical Essays. Durham NC: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-0320-6
- Meyers, Jeffrey (1985). Hemingway: A Biography. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-42126-0
- Oliver, Charles (1999). Ernest Hemingway A to Z: The Essential Reference to the Life and Work. New York: Checkmark Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-3467-3