Hemingway’s short story Soldier’s Home incorporates many themes and stylistic elements that we associate with Hemingway’s writings. The story of the soldier returning from a traumatic war experience and trying to find a way to come to terms with the small-town life he used to live, after being initiated into the adult world of the war including life and death, is an essential theme in Hemingway’s writings.
Part of the disillusionment that the character, Krebs, is met with has to do with his trouble in constructing or finding meaning in the concepts that he went to war for, which have now become empty to him:
All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else, now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves. (p. 111)
Even the Americans who did not participate physically in the war and who were supposed to glorify his efforts and perhaps constitute him as a hero and reaffirm the values for which he went to war are no longer concerned with the concepts of glory and honor, and thus fail to provide him with a fulfilling or “right” feeling of coming back. The disillusionment is furthermore reinforced by the fact that he has arrived too late and as the “hysteria” has passed “Now the reaction had set in.” (p. 111). The world that he has returned to is itself struggling with the aftermath of the war and is even trying to forget it. “She often came in while he was in bed and asked him to tell her about the war, but her attention always wa…
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…an abstraction to the reader, and through this characteristic style he isolates the individual character which fits very well the thematical impression he is trying to convey in his writings. The character, Krebs, similarly resists to go beneath the surface and try to communicate his feelings in a complicated and perhaps more precise manner. It even seems like any attempt to make him connect or feel anything makes him nauseous and uneasy. And so the relationship between style and theme in this particular short story incorporates so many characteristic features that it has in many ways come to represent to me and perhaps to many others as it was even made into a TV-drama in 1977, the core of the early Hemingway.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home”, from Ernest Hemingway: The Short Stories. (New York, NY : Scribner Paperback Fiction Edition) 1995.
A Comparison of Beowulf and Icelandic Sagas
Beowulf and Icelandic Sagas
There are many similarities between the hero of the poem Beowulf and the heroes of the two Icelandic sagas, The Saga of The Volsungs and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki. The former saga is an Icelandic saga representing oral traditions dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun was fighting on the northern fringes of the Roman Empire; the latter is an Icelandic saga representing 1000 years of oral traditions prior to the 1300’s when it was written.
An unknown author wrote The Saga of The Volsungs in the thirteenth century, basing his story on far older Norse poetry. Iceland was settled by the Vikings about 870-930, who took to that land the famous lay of Sigurd and the Volsungs. Native Icelandic poets loved the story of Sigurd and the Huns, Goths, Burgundians, with whom this hero interacted. This prose story is based on traditional Norse verse called Eddic poetry, a form of mythic or heroic lay which developed before 1000 in the oral folk culture of Old Scandinavia. The Icelandic skald is the equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon scop. He was a storyteller. Icelandic material builds on a long oral tradition just like Anglo-saxon. Skalds stayed in the royal courts of Scandinavia like their counterparts to the south.
In The Saga of the Volsungs the hero Sigurd is the one who corresponds best with the hero Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” mentions: “The form of Beowulf taken as a whole suggests both the ‘Bear’s Son’ folktale type (especially as we find it in Scandinavia) and the ‘combat myth’. . . .” (286). The “combat myth” is probably what this saga is. When Sigurd was born, he was the grandson of Ki…
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…celandic sagas, The Song of the Volsungs and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, contain remarkable similarities between their main characters and Beowulf’s main character; they are just too astounding to dismiss as mere coincidences.
Chickering, Howell D.. Beowulf A dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor Books, 1977.
Clark, Gorge. “The Hero and the Theme.” In A Beowulf Handbook, edited by Robert Bjork and John D. Niles. Lincoln, Nebraska: Uiversity of Nebraska Press, 1997.
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, translated by Jesse L. Byock. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.
The Saga of the Volsungs, translated by Jesse L. Byock. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.