Comparison of “A Soldier’s Home” and “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Hemingway’s Soldier’s Home and Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front are two pieces of text based on World War I and its effects on the individual soldiers. Even though the books are written from the perspectives of soldiers from opposing alliances, their experiences back home are quite similar. Both characters felt out of place when they returned home from the war, regardless of permanence. Paul Bäumer, a German soldier who died a month prior to the war’s end, was sent home on leave mid-war. Harold Krebs, an American soldier, returned home nearly a year after the war had finished. Regardless of being rather different characters, they both seemed to feel cut out of society and noticed that life was drastically different from before they went off to serve the war. 

The emotions they feel when back at home are similar, but have different reasoning. Paul’s short trip back home helps him realize that war had drastically changed his life, and not for the better. On page 165, Paul finds that “… he does not know that a man cannot talk of such things; I would do it willingly, but it is too dangerous for me to put these things into words.” (while speaking to his father). He has made the connection that the war is far too devastating for anyone to hear its stories, and it would ruin them as it ruined him.

Krebs, on the other hand, realizes that the war supplied a great amount of emotion and intensity. Krebs felt empty, rather than upset when he returned home. His late arrival and how the enthusiasm for returning soldiers had faded, making him feel unwelcome. Krebs had to lie to try to fit himself back into society by telling fake scenarios to keep his audience interested. He lacked motivation and missed the excitement the war had provided. On page 1, Krebs notices that “A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told”. Krebs secretly enjoyed the war and the exhilaration that it supplied, and his home did not provide that same feeling.

Overall, both characters suffered at home from the war. Paul felt out of place and emotionally ruined, while Krebs missed the excitement. Both characters shared the same general reaction, but each with a different meaning behind it.

Nyah Sharratt – 10/10

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