This vignette describes a bombardment at Fossalta. An unnamed soldier lies very flat praying to Jesus the entire time the bombs are falling. He prays constantly for his safety and to continue living. He pleads with Jesus, saying that he loves him and believes in him. The next morning is hot and muggy while the narrator works on the trench. The next night the unnamed soldier is back at Mestre. He goes upstairs with a girl at the Villa Rossa. He does not tell her or anyone else about Jesus, which he had promised to do during the bombardment.
The narration in this story is about a soldier named Krebs. He went to war after attending a Methodist college in Kansas. He enlists in the Marines in 1917 and returns from the Rhine in the summer of 1919. The narrator came home much too late for a hero's greeting. Krebs does not initially want to discuss his experiences, but when he finally does, no one wants to listen. The town does not show any interest in hearing what he has to say. He begins to make up stories just so people listen to him, but this situation makes him view the war and his experience with distaste. He only feels comfortable with other war veterans. During this period he generally sleeps late and hangs around the house or around town. He plays his clarinet often and reads. His sisters still see him as a hero, but while his mother tries to talk with him about the war, she often has trouble paying attention. His father remains neutral on the topic. The only aspect of the town that has changed is that the young girls have grown up. Krebs does not have the energy or courage to make an effort to meet any of them. He does like looking at them, however. He really does not want them as they are. They are too complicated, and he does not want to have to work to get a girl for himself. He tries to avoid anything with the possibility of consequences. The army has taught him he can live without a girl. He learned in the army that you only need a girl if you think about it, and sooner or later you always get one. He would like a girl if he could spend time with her without talking. With German and French girls there was not all this talking; it was a lot more simple. Overall he likes Germany much better and did not want to come home. The girls in his town are not in the same world as his.
One morning his mother enters his bedroom and tells him his father would allow Krebs to take the car out in the evenings, something he had never been allowed to do. At breakfast his sister talks with him about baseball and asks him if he is her beau. She asks him if he loves her and then if he will go watch her play. After his sister Helen leaves, his mother sits down and talks with Krebs about his plans for the future. She is very worried about him. She tells him that God has work for everyone in His Kingdom and gets upset when Krebs says that he is not part of that Kingdom. She reveals that she prays for him constantly. She urges him to find a job. She asks him if he loves her and begins to cry when he says no. She prays for him before he leaves. The story ends with Krebs having thoughts about the future, wanting his life to go smoothly. He feels as though all hope of that kind of life is permanently gone.
The vignette's context is the bombardment of Fossalta, but it is concerned with the utter panic and fear of an unnamed soldier. The focus is not on the violence of the actual battle but on the reaction to this violence. The soldier pleads to Jesus to keep him safe and makes numerous promises to Him. But the next night he does not keep any of his promises, showing hypocrisy and the unreasonable prayers of wartime. The vignette shows the overwhelming fear of the soldier during battle, as well as the way he deals with this fear.
"Soldier's Home" tells the story of a soldier named Krebs. Upon returning from war he has trouble adjusting to regular life in the community. This chapter is one of the most personal narratives of the impact of war, and it primarily shows the trouble he has in his everyday relationships. The people in his town are not interested in hearing his stories. Krebs has lost his ability to connect with the community and the people within it. The war has changed him. He does not want to make an effort to meet any girls, and he tells his mother that he does not love her. The chapter describes his loss of passion for life. He does not want to do anything with consequences. He also loses his desire to connect with other people or to rely on people for anything. This social loss is a result of his experience in the war. The army was what taught him that he does not need girls. He also lost part of his youth, becoming cynical. Hemingway never mentions death or violence, but Krebs's experience of them changes him forever and destroys his innocence.