Example research essay topic: All Quiet On The Westren Front – 5,671 words

… by comparison. In many ways, the bond forged
between soldiers in trench warfare is the only
romanticized element to Remarque’s novel.All Quiet
on the Western Front – Chapter 6SummaryThe Second
Company returns to the front two days early. On
their way, they pass a shelled schoolhouse. Fresh
coffins are piled by the dozens next to it. They
make jokes to distance themselves from the
unpleasant knowledge that the coffins were made
for them.

At the front, they listen to the enemy
transports and guns. They detect that the enemy is
bringing troops to the front, and they can hear
that the English have strengthened their
artillery. The men are disheartened by this
knowledge as well as the fact that their own
shells are beginning to fall in the trenches. The
barrels on the guns are worn out.The soldiers can
do nothing but wait. Chance determines much of
their luck or misfortune. Once, Paul left one
dug-out to visit friends in another.

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When he
returned to the first, it had been completely
demolished by a direct hit. He returned to the
second only to discover that it had been
buried.The soldiers have to fight the fat,
aggressive rats to protect their food. Large
rations of cheese and rum are doled out to the
men, a bad sign. Every man receives numerous
grenades and ample ammunition. They also remove
the bayonet blades with a saw on one edge. The
enemy kills anyone caught with this kind of weapon
on sight.

Kat is in bad spirits. Paul knows this
is a bad sign since Kat has an uncanny sense for
knowing what will happen on the front.Days pass
before the bombs begin to fall. No attack comes
right away, but the bombs continue to fall.
Attempts to deliver food to the dug-outs fail.
Even Kat fails to scrounge something. They settle
down to wait. Eventually, a new recruit cracks and
attempts to leave. Kat and Paul have to beat him
into submission.

Later, the dug-out suffers a
direct hit. Luckily, the shell is a light one, so
the concrete holds up against it. Three recruits
crack, and one actually escapes the dug-out.
Before Paul can retrieve him, a shell whistles
through the air and smashes the escaped recruit to
bits. They have to bind one to subdue him.
Everyone else tries to play cards, but no one can
concentrate on the game.Finally, the shelling
lessens. The attack has come. Paul and his
comrades throw grenades out of the dug-out before
jumping out.

The French attackers suffer heavy
losses from the German machine guns and grenades.
The soldiers kill with a mindless fury after days
of waiting helplessly in the dark while the bombs
fell above them. The Germans repel the attack and
reach the enemy lines. They wreak havoc and
destruction before grabbing all the provisions
they can carry. They run back to their position to
rest for an hour. They devour the tins of food
they have gathered. The enemy is far better
provisioned than they are.Later, Paul stands

Memories of the past come to him. They are
always calm and quiet because calm and quiet are
so distant on the front. The memories bring sorrow
rather than desire. In the trenches, desire for
the past is unattainable because they are cut off
completely from that world. The soldiers are dead
men walking. Days pass while dead men accumulate
between the two warring sides.

Paul and his
comrades listen to one man’s death throes for
three days. They are unable to locate him despite
their best efforts. The new recruits figure
heavily in the dead and wounded. The
reinforcements sent to replace them have had
little training, and they drop like flies on the
front. They are younger than ever before.During an
attack, Paul finds Himmelstoss in a dugout,
pretending to be wounded. Paul forces him out with
blows and threats.

They rush forward with the
attack. The old hands try to teach some of the new
recruits some combat tricks and knowledge during
the hours of rest. They forget it when the
fighting begins again. Haie Westhus receives a
fatal wound. When the Second Company is relieved,
only thirty-two are left of the original one
hundred fifty men. CommentaryThe conditions in the
trenches are nearly unimaginable for those who
have never known war.

First, the trenches stank.
Soldiers slept, ate, and defecated in the same
trenches. Bodies lay rotting by the hundreds of
thousands in No Man’s Land and in the trenches
themselves. The rotting corpses attracted legions
of rats. They grew large, fat, and extremely
aggressive. Not only did they compete with
soldiers for food, but they also occasionally
overpowered and ate wounded men who could not
defend themselves.The rats, lice, feces, and
corpses in and around the trenches provided a
paradise for disease-causing microbes. Men who
stood for hours in the filthy, water-logged
trenches without changing their socks or drying
their boots for hours developed trench foot.

victim gradually lost the sensation in his feet
while the skin turned red or blue. Untreated
trench foot could lead to gangrene which almost
certainly mean amputation. Moreover, owing the
difficulty in delivering food and water to the
trenches during bombardments, soldiers often had
to resort to drinking the filthy water in the
trenches.It is important to remember that The
Great War occurred before the discovery of
antibiotics, and that a shortage of medical
supplies such as antiseptics, clean bandages, and
painkillers quickly became a problem. In hospitals
with particularly bad shortages, doctors and
nurses were forced to use salt to disinfect
wounds. Imagine having a handful of salt rubbed
into a wound or an amputated stump without the
benefit of adequate painkillers.World War I was
the first war in which the killing did not often
involve seeing the enemy face to face. It was also
the first war in which the enemy was demonized
through an intense, organized campaign of

De-humanizing the enemy made killing
him more palatable. The weapons were designed to
maim and kill as many people as possible.
Moreover, they were designed to cause horrific
deaths in order to terrorize the remaining enemy
survivors and demoralize their fighting spirit.
Grenades, machine guns, poison gas, shells, and
saw bayonets were just a few common weapons.Before
modern trench warfare, inventive military
strategies and sweeping victories were possible.
The Great War quickly became characterized by
battles of attrition. The goal was not “victory,”
but to wear down the enemy’s ability to attack or
even continue the war. The strategy was basic. The
attacking side bombarded enemy trenches
relentlessly, sometimes for up to a week. The
death toll from bombardment compared to the death
toll in the actual attack was comparatively low.
The Germans in particular built strong bomb-proof
dugouts, although those built later were of lesser

After the bombardment, a wave of
attacking soldiers advanced on the enemy
trenches.Unfortunately, the defending side knew
the attack was coming the moment the bombing
ended. They manned their machine guns and mowed
down the attacking soldiers. The result was an
ever-growing collection of bodies in No Man’s
Land. The major battles of attrition in The Great
War resulted in hundreds of thousands of
casualties. There really was no “victor” because
the gains usually meant a few hundred yards of
ground. Generally, they ended in stalemates with
an unprecedented cost in human lives and human
suffering.The soldiers not only faced the constant
threat of physical injury and death.

They faced
intense psychological stress. During bombardments,
they often huddled for days in crowded dugouts.
The weight of uncertainty wore down a soldier’s
mental reserves because mere chance often
determined his survival or his death. When other
soldiers cracked, the remaining soldiers had even
more difficulty remaining calm. They saw every
imaginable form of damage to the human body. They
listened to the death throes of the wounded and
dying in No Man’s land. Often, they were unable to
retrieve the victims, and some of them took days
to die.

They suffered the trauma of being buried
alive when their dugouts were hit by enemy
shells.Early in the war, doctors noticed a
condition they later termed “shell shock.” In our
time, shell shock is called post-traumatic stress
syndrome, a recognized psychological disorder. In
World War I, the army was not very sympathetic to
shell shock victims, accusing them of cowardice or
weakness. Some of the victims never recovered.
Other soldiers, unable to withstand the relentless
wear on their mental reserves, committed suicide
by shooting themselves or walking directly into
enemy fire.Paul’s description of the German
response to the attack leaves no doubt as to the
decidedly unromantic nature of trench warfare. The
Germans rout the enemy from their own trenches.
However, they do not achieve this success out of
patriotic fervor or bravery. They are men driven
to the brink of insanity. They savagely kill and
maim the attackers, not because they are enemies
of the fatherland, but because they can do nothing
else to release the anxiety, stress, and terror of
days long bombardment.Despite the fantastic
success of the German soldier’s defense, there are
numerous clues in this chapter that Germany is
losing the war.

The English and the French have
increased the strength of their artillery, but the
German weapons are worn so badly that the shells
often fall into German trenches, killing German
soldiers. The new recruits are younger than ever
before, and they have had scant training. As a
result, they die in numbers five to ten times
higher than experienced soldiers. Germany is
running out of able-bodied adult men. The soldiers
are being killed and wounded at such a rate that
they cannot even effectively train the boys they
send to replace the men they have lost.Both sides
of the conflict were guilty of sending
horrendously undertrained boys to die senselessly
in trench warfare. Countries entertained the idea
that it was romantic and heroic that young boys
died for their country.

There are records of
children as young as twelve and thirteen serving
as soldiers in the war. Remarque bitterly
illustrates that they died defending nothing
because they were too young and too unprepared to
defend their own lives much less their country.All
Quiet on the Western Front – Chapter 7SummaryThe
Second Company is sent to a depot for
re-organization. Himmelstoss tries to make good
with them after having been to the front. He
becomes generous with food and easy jobs for them,
and even wins Tjaden over. Good food and rest are
enough to make a soldier content. Away from the
trenches he makes vulgar jokes as usual.
Otherwise, there is no hope for him.

Over time,
his humorous jests become more bitter. He flees
madness in a losing race.Paul, Leer, and Kropp
meet three women while they are swimming. They
communicate with them in broken French, indicating
that they have food. They are forbidden to cross
the canal, and the women are not allowed to do so
either. Later that night, they gather some food
and swim across, wearing nothing more than their
boots. The women throw them clothing.

Despite the
language barrier, they chatter endlessly. They
call the soldiers, “poor boys.” Paul is
inexperienced, but he yields to desire. He hopes
to recapture a piece of his innocence and youth
with a woman who does not belong to the army
brothels.Paul receives seventeen days of leave.
Afterwards, he has to report to a training base.
He returns to the front in six weeks. He wonders
how many of his friends will survive six weeks.
The woman on the other side of the canal is not
interested to hear about his leave. If he were
going to the front, it would be more exciting.When
Paul reaches his home town, he finds that his
mother is ill with cancer. The civilian population
is slowly starving.

He cannot shake a feeling of
“strangeness.” He no longer feels at home in his
family’s house. His mother asks if it was “very
bad out there.” Paul lies to her. He has no words
to describe his experiences that she would
understand.A Major becomes angry that Paul does
not salute him in the street. As a punishment, he
forces Paul to do a march in the street and salute
smartly. Paul wishes to avoid further such
incidents, so he begins wearing civilian clothing.
Paul’s father, unlike his mother, keeps asking him
questions. He does not understand that it is
dangerous for Paul to put his experiences into

Others who do not ask questions take too
much pride in their silence. Sometimes, the
tramcars’ screeching startles him because they
sound like shells. Paul sits in his bedroom with
his books and pictures, trying to recapture the
feelings of youth and desire, but the memories are
only shadows. His identity as a soldier is the
only thing to which he can cling.Paul learns from
a fellow classmate, Mittelstaedt, now a training
officer, that Kantorek has been called up a
territorial. When he met Kantorek, Mittelstaedt
lorded his authority as a superior officer over
his old schoolmaster. He bitterly reminded
Kantorek that he preached Joseph Behm into
enlisting against the boy’s wishes.

He would have
been called within three months anyway. As a
result, Joseph died three months sooner than he
would have otherwise. Mittelstaedt arranged to be
placed in charge of Kantorek’s company and takes
every chance to humiliate him, miming Kantorek’s
old admonitions as a schoolmaster.Paul’s mother
becomes sadder as the end of his leave looms
closer. Paul visits Kemmerich’s mother to deliver
the news of her son’s death. She demands to know
how he died, but Paul lies to her by telling her
he died quickly with little pain and suffering. He
swears by everything he holds “sacred.”Paul’s
mother sits with him in his bedroom the last night
of his leave.

He tried to pretend that he is
asleep, but he notes that she is in great physical
pain. He urges her to return to bed. Paul wishes
he could weep in her lap and die with her. He
wishes he had never come on leave because it only
awakens pain for himself and his mother.
CommentaryPaul, Leer, and Kropp’s liaison with the
three French women is an important symbolic event
in All Quiet on the Western Front. Most of Paul’s
sexual experiences have occurred in the army
brothels. The character of his sexual experiences
represents a further loss of youthful innocence.
Paul wants his experience with the French woman to
recapture some of his youthful innocence.

It is
not insignificant that he symbolically seeks
refuge in the arms of the enemy. In a sense, his
actions imply that the redemption he seeks cannot
come from his leaders or his fellow Germans. They
pressured him into the horrific trenches, so they
betrayed him. They offer him prostitutes in the
army brothels, further engaging in the destruction
of his youthful innocence.However, Paul does not
find understanding or recognition of the value of
his humanity from the woman. He clashes again with
the romantic idealizations of war. For her, he is
a passing, perhaps titillating, sentimental
fantasy for her.

He is attractive because he is
young and lives in constant mortal danger on the
front. She is not interested in hearing about his
leave to go home. If she were never to see him
again because he was returning to the front, he
would be more exciting for her. She wants him to
be an abstract symbol, but he wants her to see him
as a human being.At home, people approach him in
the streets because they want to be seen serving
or talking to a soldier. For them, he is the
representation of their romantic, patriotic
ideals. He also runs into yet another petty
authority figure.

We have seen pompous, ridiculous
power hungry men in Kantorek and Himmelstoss. The
Major who humiliates him in public is still
obsessed with the distinctions and formalities of
rank. He does not recognize the immense amount of
suffering Paul has experienced. Again, the theme
of betrayal is important. The authority figures
that demanded he become a soldier and fight do not
demonstrate any understanding or respect for him
even after all the sacrifices he has made.Paul
does not want to talk about the truth of trench
warfare with his family or with the civilians who
ask him about it. Partly, his reluctance is due to
his need to maintain emotional distance from his
terrible experiences.

Putting those experiences
and his reactions to them into words threatens the
mental reserves he will need when he returns to
the front. Partly, he is reluctant because those
who have never seen the ravages of trench warfare
cannot possibly understand it. Truthfully
describing them would also raise the risk of being
branded as unpatriotic. It would make the war
effort sounds like a pointless, brutal exercise in
futility. He also does not want to discuss his
experiences because the truth will cause pain for
his family. In their own way, they are suffering
as well.

He does not want to add to their pain by
telling them what the war is really like.Paul’s
visit to Kemmerich’s mother also threatens his
need to emotionally distance himself from his
traumatic experiences. He faces the pain of a
grieving mother, and this threatens to open the
gates of his own grief. He lies to her about the
circumstances of her son’s death because he cannot
deal with his own anguish at watching a friend die
a bad death. He swears on everything he holds
sacred because he wants to escape, but also
because he really no longer holds anything
sacred.Paul’s visit to his home town also reveals
more clues to the fact that Germany is losing the
war. The civilian population is suffering from a
severe food shortage. In some ways, Paul’s
reluctance to be truthful about the war is also
due to his reluctance to tell his fellow citizens
that their own suffering is senseless.

They need
justification for their sacrifices towards the war
effort.All Quiet on the Western Front – Chapters
8-9SummaryPaul reports to the training camp. Next
to the camp is a prison for captured Russian
soldiers. They pick through the garbage for food.
Paul can hardly understand how they find anything
in the garbage. Food is so scarce that everything
is eaten. Paul can scarcely believe that these men
with “honest, peasant’s faces” are the enemy. Many
are slowly starving, and they are stricken with
dysentery in large numbers.

Their soft voices
bring images of warm, cozy homes to Paul’s mind.
Most people ignore their begging. A few kick
them.The brotherly spirit between the prisoners
touches Paul. They live in such miserable
circumstances that it is no use for them to fight
amongst themselves anymore. Paul cannot relate to
them as individual men because he knows nothing of
their lives. He only sees the animal suffering in
them. People he has never met said the word that
made these men the enemy.

Because of other men,
they must shoot, maim, and kill one another. Paul
pushes these thoughts away because they threaten
his dissolution. He breaks all of his cigarettes
in half and gives them to the prisoners. One of
the prisoners learns that Paul plays the piano. He
plays his violin next to the fence. The music
sounds thin and lonely in the night air.

It only
makes Paul sadder.Before he returns to the front,
Paul’s sister and father visit him. They cannot
find anything to talk about except his mother’s
illness. The hours are an agony for them. His
mother is in the hospital with cancer. His father
did not even ask what the operation would cost
because he fears the doctors will not perform the
surgery if he does. Before they leave, they give
Paul some jam and potato cakes that his mother
made for him.

He plans to give them to the
Russians because he has no appetite for them. He
remembers that his mother must have been in pain
when she made them, so he gives them only two
cakes.When Paul returns to the front, he finds
Kat, Muller, Tjaden, and Kropp still alive and
uninjured. He shares his potato cakes with them.
The Kaiser is scheduled or a visit, so everything
is cleaned. All the soldiers are given new
clothes. Paul and the others are disappointed to
see that he is not a very remarkable man. After he
leaves, the new clothes are taken away.

They muse
that thirty people in the world could have said
“No” to the war, and it would not have happened.
They do not understand who is right and wrong.
They are defending their fatherland and the French
are doing the same. They conclude that wars are
useful only for leaders who want to be in the
history books.Paul volunteers to crawl into No
Man’s Land to gather information about the enemy’s
strength. On his way back, he becomes lost. A
bombardment begins, and he knows an attack is
coming. He has to lie still and pretend to be
dead. He crawls into a shell hole to wait.

enemy solider crashes into the shell hole with
him, and Paul stabs him quickly. It is too light
to make his way back. Later he notices that the
French soldier is not dead. Paul bandages his
wounds and gives him water. The man takes several
hours to die. It is the first time Paul has killed
someone in hand to hand combat, and the experience
rends his soul.Paul talks to the dead soldier,
explaining that he did not want to kill him.

finds a picture of a woman and a little girl in
the man’s pocketbook. He reads what he can of the
letters tucked inside. Every word is an agony to
read. The dead man’s name is Gerard Duval, and he
was a printer by trade. Paul copies his address
and resolves to send money to his family
anonymously. As dark falls again, Paul’s survival
instinct re-awakens.

He knows he will not fulfill
his promise. He crawls back to his trench. Hours
later, he confesses the experience of killing the
printer. Kat and Kropp draw his attention to their
snipers enjoying their job of picking off enemy
soldiers. They point out that he took no pleasure
from his killing and he had no choice unlike the
snipers. CommentaryPaul’s experiences with the
Russian prisoners is another attack on the
romantic, patriotic ideals of the war.

He cannot
see them as enemies. Other people more powerful
than he and the prisoners made them enemies.
Someone else decided they had to shoot, kill, and
torture one another. Paul quickly flees these
thoughts. The philosophical reaction only makes
the senselessness of everything he has experienced
all too apparent. It threatens the last threshold
of hope he has. He decides to save his thoughts
for a later time because he can afford to
entertain them now.

Nationalistic spirit that
drove several countries into unprecedented levels
of carnage. The leaders of these various nations
disseminated propaganda telling their citizens
that there was an essential difference between
them and the enemy. Paul finds such ideas
ridiculous and dangerous. The prisoners actually
only remind him of German peasants. They seem no
different and no less human. Yet, they would be
required to kill one another if the prisoners were
free.Paul’s subsequent discussion with his
comrades continues in the same vein.

The irony of
The Great War is that soldiers on both sides were
sent to war based on the same ideals. After this
crucial realization, they cannot determine who is
right and who is wrong. In the end, those ideals
are used by power- and status-hungry leaders to
seduce other citizens into supporting a war that
does nothing but harm them. The wars are useful
only to very few men who never actually see
combat. A small number of leaders made the
decision to enter a war that cost millions of
lives. The senselessness of the matter is that
fewer than thirty men made that decision.Paul’s
entrance into No Man’s Land as a spy is one of the
most dangerous jobs in trench warfare.

It also
provides the conditions for the most traumatic
experience he suffers in the novel. For the first
time, he kills a man in hand to hand combat. He
sees the enemy face to face, so he is forced to
realize the true cost behind his taking of another
human being’s life. Gerard Duval is not a vague
figure he kills from a distance. Paul is disgusted
to find blood on his hand after he stabs Gerard.
Paul bandages Gerard once he realizes that he is
not dead. Paul is shocked to see the terror in the
Gerard’s eyes.

Paul is forced to realize that he
is the object of such fear. He hesitates to read
Gerard’s name in his paybook because his victim
will take on en even more concrete identity. He is
forced to see what he has destroyed. He is forced
to realize that Gerard’s wife and child are
victims of his actions as well.By the time Paul
returns to the trenches, he ceases to refer to
Gerard as an individual. He calls him “the
printer.” It is difficult to judge him morally
because he cannot survive the war if he does not
emotionally distance himself from the experience.
He cannot function as a soldier if he remains in
the grips of grief and remorse he experienced in
the hours after the Gerard’s death.Remarque’s
sympathetic portrayal of the enemy is an attack on
the nationalistic values that provoked The Great
War. When the enemy becomes human, the romantic
patriotism that fueled the war effort becomes a
heinous crime.

Men were pitted against one another
under the very same banners: home, country, and
family. The enemies are also fathers, husbands,
and sons, not monsters.All Quiet on the Western
Front – Chapter 10SummaryPaul, Tjaden, Muller,
Kropp, Detering, and Kat have to guard an empty
village because a supply dump is there. They are
also supposed to supply themselves from the dump.
They choose a dug-out and proceed to take
advantage of the opportunity to eat and sleep as
much as they can. They take a large mahogany bed,
mattresses, and blankets into their dug-out
because such comforts are a luxury they do not
enjoy normally. They collect eggs, butter, and
they have the amazing luck to find two suckling
pigs. They proceed to collect fresh vegetables and
cook a grand dinner in a well-outfitted kitchen
hear the dug-out.

Paul makes pancakes while the
others roast the pigs.Unfortunately, the enemy
notes the smoke rising from the chimney and
proceeds to bomb the house. The men gather the
food and make a dash for the dugout. Paul finishes
the pancakes while the bombs fall around him. Once
he finishes, he grabs the plate of pancakes and
manages to get to the dug-out without losing a
single one. The meal lasts four hours. Afterwards,
they smoke cigars and cigarettes from the supply

They drink coffee, and begin eating again
before they end the night with cognac. They even
feed a stray cat. The richness of the meal after
such long deprivation causes them to suffer bouts
of diarrhea all night.For two weeks, the men live
a “charmed life” before they are moved again. They
take the bed, two arm chairs, and the cat with
them. While they are evacuating another village,
Kropp and Paul are wounded by a falling shell.
They find an ambulance wagon after struggling out
of the zone of the shelling. Albert has been
wounded very close to his knee.

He resolves to
commit suicide if they amputate his leg. Paul’s
leg is broken and his arm is wounded. He and
Albert arrange to travel to the hospital in the
same train car together by bribing a
sergeant-major with cigars.Albert develops a fever
and must stop at the Catholic hospital nearby.
Paul fakes an illness to go with him. The first
day, Paul has to fight to get the nuns to close
the door while they pray. The patients cannot
sleep for the noise. Albert’s fever does not
improve, so they amputate his leg from the thigh.
Men die daily at the hospital.

The amazing array
of maiming wounds shows Paul that a hospital is
the best place to learn what war is about. He
wonders what will happen to his generation after
the war ends. How can they live a normal life when
their first calling was killing?Lewandowski, a
forty year-old soldier, is recuperating from a bad
abdominal injury. He is excited that his wife is
coming to visit him with the child she bore after
he left to fight two years before. He wanted to go
out with his wife because he has not slept with
her for two years. Before she arrives, he develops
a fever, so he is confined to bed.

When she
arrives, she is nervous. Lewandowski explains what
he wants, and she blushes furiously. The other
patients tell her that social niceties are no good
during this day and age. Two men guard the door in
case a doctor or one of the nuns arrives to check
on a patient. Albert holds the child, and the
other patients play cards and chat loudly with
their backs to the couple. The plan is carried out
without a problem.

Lewandowski’s wife shares the
food she brought with the patients.Paul heals
well. The hospital begins using paper bandages
because the cloth ones have become scarce. Kropp’s
leg heals, but he is more solemn and less
talkative than he used to be. Paul thinks he would
have killed himself if he were not in a room with
other patients. Paul receives leave to go home and
finish healing. Parting from his mother is harder
than the last time.

She is weaker than before.
CommentaryThe scenes in the evacuated village are
full of a certain bitter comedy. Paul and his
friends make use of the opportunity to celebrate
and live a charmed life because the chances to
relax and become human are so few and far between.
While Paul’s decision to stay and finish his
pancakes while bombs are falling around the
kitchen seems like a gross misalignment of
priorities, there is a strange, crazy logic to it.
Pancakes are his favorite dish. He could easily
die tomorrow and never have them again. However,
there is a dark side to this scene. The men grab
their food first and then they seek shelter. Paul
finishes the last four pancakes before he runs for

He and his friends are so used to being
bombed and shot at, that they can actually
maintain the nerve to preserve their meal.
Moreover, they are so starved and hungry for real
food that they are actually willing to risk their
lives for it. At the same time, their antics while
guarding the supply dump provide an instance of
hope. Small elements of humanity and human folly
can actually survive the trenches.The ride in the
train with Albert is also full of comedic humor.
Despite the dirtiness and coarseness of life in
the trenches, Paul still suffers from a boyish
modesty in his reluctance to tell one of the
nurses he needs to go to the bathroom. He does not
want to lie in the bunks because the sheets are so
clean and he is so dirty. The Catholic hospital
also contains moments when Paul’s boyish innocence
shows signs of surviving. He throws a bottle at
the door in order to force the nuns’ to shut it
when they pray.

Another man takes the blame
because he has a medical excuse for irrational,
impetuous outbursts. Paul and the other patients
react with glee when they discover this because
they know they can commit all sorts of mischief
and infractions of the rules. The patient with the
license to misbehave without consequences can
always take credit for it.Lewandowski’s feverish
anticipation of his wife’s visit demonstrates that
the normal course of human concerns can indeed
survive the trenches. Moreover, the scene in which
he carried out his plan also shows the
extraordinary level of familiarity and intimacy
that soldiers share with one another. No one takes
offense at his desire to enjoy conjugal relations
with his wife while they are in the room. In fact,
they all take part in the plan by preventing
doctors and nuns from interrupting its
progress.However, there is a dark side to the
comedic humor in the scenes at the hospital as

Men die every day from their wounds.
Lewandowski may never see his wife again because
he might not survive his wounds. Moreover,
overzealous doctors use wounded soldiers as guinea
pigs for their crackpot ideas. One doctor cripples
a number of otherwise able-bodied young soldiers
by trying to cure their flat feet. Kropp suffers
an intense depression over the loss of his leg.
The use of paper bandages in the hospital reveals
that Germany is suffering even greater shortages
in necessary resources for the war effort. It also
another clue to the fact that Germany is losing
the war, but still continuing to prosecute
it.Moreover, the hospital is filled with men
suffering from permanently disfiguring injuries.
There are wards for soldiers suffering from poison
gas injuries, amputations, blindness, and various
other injuries. The hospital in a museum of the
vast array of maiming or lethal injuries to which
the human body is subject in modern warfare.

It is
the place where the most succinct and shocking
evidence of the human costs of war can be seen.



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