Time: approximately 2 hours.
Objectives: Students will achieve a better understanding of the short story by learning literary devices and terms (e.g., imagery, symbolism, protagonist, antagonist, setting) used for analyzing stories. They will also learn how to analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story using these literary devices.
Reading Strategies: Students will make predictions, draw conclusions and make generalizations about what they have read by utilizing background knowledge, looking for the main ideas, making notes, highlighting or underlining specific information, and by answering questions. They will learn new vocabulary through inference, highlighting unknown words, using the dictionary, and graphic organizers for assistance.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Ask students to read the title of the short story. Then, have them examine the photo. Based on these sources, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
Organizer Chart for Analyzing Story
Directions: Students may use this reading chart by Pace High School as a pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tool to aid their comprehension of the events in the story.
Stimulating Background Knowledge
Direction: Begin by setting up background information for students.
Write the major points on the board as students discuss what they know (or don’t know) about soldiers, and the military service. Have students use the prediction charts as a guide.
Some points to review with students to help them make connections as to why Hemingway wrote this short story can be found in this article from The Hemingway Resource Center, about Ernest Hemingway and his personal experiences during WWI.
Highlights from article:
- When Hemingway turned eighteen he tried to enlist in the army, but was deferred because of poor vision.
- The day he arrived, a munitions factory exploded and he had to carry mutilated bodies and body parts to a makeshift morgue; it was an immediate and powerful initiation into the horrors of war.
- On July 8, 1918, only a few weeks after arriving, Hemingway was seriously wounded by fragments from an Austrian mortar shell which had landed just a few feet away.
- The explosion knocked Hemingway unconscious, killed an Italian soldier and blew the legs off another.
- Ted Brumback, one of Ernest’s fellow ambulance drivers, wrote that despite over 200 pieces of shrapnel being lodged in Hemingway’s legs he still managed to carry another wounded soldier back to the first aid station; Hemingway was awarded the Italian Silver Medal for Valor.
- Hemingway’s story “Soldier’s Home” conveys his feelings of frustration and shame upon returning home to a town and to parents who still had a romantic notion of war and who didn’t understand the psychological impact the war had had on their son.
II. While Reading
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the short story. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Have the students write sentences using each word. They can use this vocabulary chart by Learnnc.org as a guide.
- There is a picture which shows him among his fraternity brothers…
- …until the second division returned from the Rhine in the summer of 1919.
- By the time Krebs returned to his home town in Oklahoma the greeting of heroes was over.
- There had been a great deal of hysteria.
- People seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late.
- His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities.
- His lies were quite unimportant lies and consisted in attributing to himself things other men had seen.
- Stating as facts certain apocryphal incidents familiar to all soldiers.
- Even his lies were not sensational at the pool room.
- Krebs acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is the result of untruth or exaggeration.
Questions for Reading Comprehension
Directions: Have students use their charts to answer the following questions from the reading.
- Look at the title of the story. What are your first impressions about what the story might be about?
- Identify the characters as you meet them in the story.
- Explain this statement, “By the time Krebs returned to his home town in Oklahoma the greeting of heroes was over. He came back much too late.”
- What did the people in town think about Krebs coming back after all of the other men had returned home from the war?
- Why didn’t the town want to hear Harold’s war stories?
- Why did Harold start to lie about his war experiences?
- What does Harold do with his days? Provide excerpts from the story to demonstrate your point.
- How did Harold’s two young sisters think of him?
- Had the town changed much since Harold came back?
- Although Harold liked the girls in his town, what prevented him from having a girlfriend?
Discussion Questions for Reflection
- What did his mother mean when she said, “There can be no idle hands in His Kingdom.”
- When Harold’s mother says, “”I’m your mother,” she said. “I held you next to my heart when you were a tiny baby.” Harold responds “ “I know, Mummy,”… I’ll try and be a good boy for you” Why does he feel sick and vaguely nauseated?
- It states, “ He had felt sorry for his mother and she had made him lie. He would go to Kansas City and get a job and she would feel all right about it. Do you think Harold will really leave his family? Why or why not?
- Are there examples of symbolism in this story? Describe where.
Directions: Choose one of the following to write an essay.
- Write an essay in which you describe the similarities between Hemingway and Harold Krebs. Describe any differences between the two men.
- In the story it states, “He sat there on the porch reading a book on the war. It was a history and he was reading about all the engagements he had been in. It was the most interesting reading he had ever done.” Write an essay in which you explain why you think Harold enjoyed reading about a war he just left ?