The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
A Reading Life Project
"Krebs went to war from a Methodist college in Kansas."
Ernest Hemingway (1899 to 1961) is considered one of America's best writers. He won the Nobel Prize in 1954. Among his most famous works are For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms. In the long ago I read most of his major novels but I neglected his short stories. Now I know that many, including Clifton Fadiman, consider them his greatest legacy. The total volume of his short stories in under 700 pages, way less than many a novel. I have decided to read all of them, though I probably will only post on a few of them.
Hemingway wrote a lot of stories and longer works that deal with war. "Soldier's Home" is about a man, not as young as he was when he left, back in Kansas after serving in the USA Army during WWI. It is told in the third person in a minimalist style. There are only three on stage characters in the story. Harold Krebs comes home deeply troubled by his war experiences. This story line maybe a cliche now but I do not think it was in 1925. He knows he no longer fits in at his parents comfortable home in Kansas and he knows he cannot make his family understand how he has changed. I think, this is just a guess, that he picked the state of Kansas (near the geographical center of America) as it was considered somehow a bland place of simple values and people. As in the famous line from The Wizard of Oz, "Toto, I think we are not in Kansas anymore". We also have his deeply religious mother who wants him to find a job and a girlfriend who will become a wife so he can "settle back in as the other fellows are". Herbert's younger sister who worships him is also in the story and he tries to relate to her to help him feel the innocence that is lost to him forever.
This is a very good story.
The story is not yet in the public domain but it can be read online (I read it in the collection) here.
Often teachers will place copy written stories online for their classes not realizing anyone can find it.
I read this story as part of my participation in The War Through the Generations WWI Reading Challenge
Do you have a favorite Hemingway short story?