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Corporal Harold Krebs, Us Marines, A Good Soldier Adjusts To Home

2542 words - 10 pages

"Soldier's Home" is a short story by Ernest Hemingway written in 1925 as a part of his book of short stories, In Our Time (Meyer 152). The story talks about Corporal Harold Krebs, who, like Hemingway, volunteers for instead of being drafted into World War I. He volunteers for the Marines in 1917. A recruiting booklet for the Marines from that time lets us know what Harold Krebs might have read before volunteering. (History and Lore). The cover of the booklet is shown here. The story, "Soldier's Home" provides clues about his military career without talking about the war itself. It is difficult to get to know about the real character of Krebs without knowing more about World War I than the story tells us. Once some of the blanks in the story are filled in, Krebs seems to be a person who was once an ordinary fraternity brother and college student who became very competent as a soldier under some of the worst conditions of World War I. He becomes a man under difficult circumstances, is highly honored and respected, has to recover from the war, but now that he is at home, he is treated like a boy who has to earn the right to be an adult. Hemingway keeps us thinking about Krebs being a solder by calling him by his last name in the story, just like soldiers are called in the military. The author makes him a Corporal, which makes us believe that he is smart and worthy of respect.An idea of what a World War I Marine looked like is in a portrait by Samuel J. Woolf from the Marine Corps Art Collection (Scuttlebutt). Krebs is in some of the most important battles of the last two years of WWI. By using clues in the story, his Division, Battalion and war history can be figured out to understand what it is like between the time he leaves college and returns home. We know he volunteers in 1917, fights in the 2nd Division, 6th Marine Battalion and returns with his division from the Rhine River (152), gets back a year later than the town draftees (Hemingway 153), is in some battles of 1918 including "Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel, and in the Argonne" (153); knows "about the actualities of machine gunning" (153), sometimes meets other men who have really been soldiers and can talk about being "badly, sickenly, frightened all the time (153), learns in the army that he does "not need a girl"(154) even though he has a picture of himself and another colonel with two girls (153), thinks about France and Germany, did not want to leave Germany to come home, reads a book about the war and looks forward to reading more detailed books (155), realizes he is a good soldier and that his work as a soldier "made a difference" (155); and knows that his mother and sisters still think of him as a hero(153). There is only one Marine Division from the Second Battalion that fits all the facts given by Hemingway. This is the Second Division which becomes a part of the 4th Brigade, American Expeditionary Force, is activated on July 11, 1917, sent to France...

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