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Comparison and Contracts of Soldiers Home and Speaking of Courage

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Boston College
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Soldiers Home and Speaking of Courage are stories that center on war experiences. The two describe the difficulties that the protagonists of the story go through and the difficulties they face in adapting to in the society. When Krebs returned home from the war, he did not receive a heros welcome. He had arrived years later after the other veterans had come home. In his return, Krebs develops little interest in anything, and he is disengaged from his family. It is evident that the relationship he has with his mother is problematic and he even tells his mother that he does not love her (Hemingway 5). A reader is able to note that his return is not marketed by accolades and parades that is usually given to young men who return home after disappearing for a long time. He comes to learn that the society does not want to hear his war experiences and this brings him nausea and discomfort. In as similar way, Bowker undergoes problems in attempts to fit into the society. This paper will delve into the analysis of the two stories to highlight the comparison and the contrast evident in the style of writing.

Krebs wanted to make people get to know how the war was a severe encounter but he is forced to retreat into near silence. He opts to spend his time sleeping, playing as well as practicing clarinet along with watching girls. To the reader, Krebs isolates himself from the other people as well as life. He thus illustrates ennui and lethargy. The previous relationship that Krebs had with women resulted in unpleasant consequences and this makes him avoid women. Hemingway writes ....He liked to look at them all, though. It was not worth it.....He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated (Hemingway 21). He alienates himself from his home, family as well as culture.

In a similar way, Bowker in the story Speaking of Courage returns home after his service in the Vietnam War. Equally, he develops difficulties in adjusting to the normalcy of everyday life just as it is the case with Krebs. Nonetheless, Krebs has a problem with his mother, but with Bowker, he faces rejection from his father. He wishes to explain to his father the war encounters but his father does not seem to care. Similar to Krebs experience with his family, Bowkers father is too busy to listen to him. He also does not have an audience to address and tell then of the Vietnam stories. Unlike Krebs, Bowker does not want to tell people the story because he thinks that they will be horrified and get disinterested. He resolve the situation by relenting to alienation. He becomes quiet and decides to keep the story to himself.

Style of Writing

Hemingway uses short and simple sentences constructions, and he employs parallelism. Through this, he manages to portray honesty, terseness, and control. The purge diction and the abstract words make him accomplish the effect of being heard translating the story into reality instead of appearing to be imagination constructs. He demonstrates self-discipline, and the prose style he employs denotes to be his greatest contribution to the story. Simply put, prose gives it an authentic simplicity. He accurately makes words correspond to experiences. He uses a little transition between his paragraphs and sentences making the syntax to be simple. Notably, this style fits the subject underlined in the storyline through the presentation of thought that run in Krebs mind. He has a conscience, and blunt diction and the opening sentence "Krebs went to the war from a Methodist college in Kansas" sets the tone of the story (Hemingway 1). The tone is tragic. He also employs repetition to emphasize his point. Indeed, the book is a symbol of war, and the figurative language embedded in this story stresses the experiences of the soldiers and their inability to lead a normal life similar to other people when they return home.

Conversely, O'Brien uses euphonious diction in attempts to describe the unpleasant situations in a positive view. This is evident when he said, "Every day you either see a scar or courage" (O'Brien 7). Like Hemingway, O'Brien accurately brings to light the pain of war through his prose style. The writing also employs a symbolism which is important to understanding the theme of the story. The sewage filed is a symbol of American decency that is drowned in the sewage of the war. Again, Obrien uses the Mary Ann Bell as a figurative language to signify the embodiment of American arrogance in Vietnam. The tone he used regarding the war is emotional, and this arouses a feeling of empathy in the reader. The selection of words makes one empathize with the protagonist and reveal the truth of the subject. The story is narrated in third person point of view, and this makes the author to vividly illustrate the feelings of the characters. Notably, O'Brien tells his story with great confidence, and he demonstrates a clear understanding of the subject. He writes The town could not talk, and would not listen "How'd you like to hear about the war?" he might have asked, but the place could only blink and shrug. (O'Brien 32). Again, he alternates between conventional and grandiose effect in his style of writing.


O'Brien and Hemingways' stories denote to have key comparisons and difference in style and theme. They both focus on the theme of war and its negative impact on the soldiers. They are also narrated in the third person and using a prose style. The stores are important in improving the reader the challenge that soldiers face when they return home from war.


Works Cited

Hemingway Ernest. Soldier's Home. New York. Boni & Liveright 1925.

O'Brien, Tim. Speaking of Courage. Santa Barbara, Calif., Neville, 1980.


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