by comparison. In many ways, the bond forgedbetween soldiers in trench warfare is the onlyromanticized element to Remarque’s novel.All Quieton the Western Front – Chapter 6SummaryThe SecondCompany returns to the front two days early. Ontheir way, they pass a shelled schoolhouse. Freshcoffins are piled by the dozens next to it. Theymake jokes to distance themselves from theunpleasant knowledge that the coffins were madefor them.
At the front, they listen to the enemytransports and guns. They detect that the enemy isbringing troops to the front, and they can hearthat the English have strengthened theirartillery. The men are disheartened by thisknowledge as well as the fact that their ownshells are beginning to fall in the trenches. Thebarrels on the guns are worn out.The soldiers cando nothing but wait. Chance determines much oftheir luck or misfortune. Once, Paul left onedug-out to visit friends in another.When hereturned to the first, it had been completelydemolished by a direct hit.
He returned to thesecond only to discover that it had beenburied.The soldiers have to fight the fat,aggressive rats to protect their food. Largerations of cheese and rum are doled out to themen, a bad sign. Every man receives numerousgrenades and ample ammunition. They also removethe bayonet blades with a saw on one edge. Theenemy kills anyone caught with this kind of weaponon sight.Kat is in bad spirits. Paul knows thisis a bad sign since Kat has an uncanny sense forknowing what will happen on the front.
Days passbefore the bombs begin to fall. No attack comesright away, but the bombs continue to fall.Attempts to deliver food to the dug-outs fail.Even Kat fails to scrounge something. They settledown to wait. Eventually, a new recruit cracks andattempts to leave. Kat and Paul have to beat himinto submission.Later, the dug-out suffers adirect hit.
Luckily, the shell is a light one, sothe concrete holds up against it. Three recruitscrack, and one actually escapes the dug-out.Before Paul can retrieve him, a shell whistlesthrough the air and smashes the escaped recruit tobits. They have to bind one to subdue him.Everyone else tries to play cards, but no one canconcentrate on the game.
Finally, the shellinglessens. The attack has come. Paul and hiscomrades throw grenades out of the dug-out beforejumping out.
The French attackers suffer heavylosses from the German machine guns and grenades.The soldiers kill with a mindless fury after daysof waiting helplessly in the dark while the bombsfell above them. The Germans repel the attack andreach the enemy lines. They wreak havoc anddestruction before grabbing all the provisionsthey can carry. They run back to their position torest for an hour. They devour the tins of foodthey have gathered. The enemy is far betterprovisioned than they are.
Later, Paul standswatch.Memories of the past come to him. They arealways calm and quiet because calm and quiet areso distant on the front. The memories bring sorrowrather than desire. In the trenches, desire forthe past is unattainable because they are cut offcompletely from that world. The soldiers are deadmen walking. Days pass while dead men accumulatebetween the two warring sides.
Paul and hiscomrades listen to one man’s death throes forthree days. They are unable to locate him despitetheir best efforts. The new recruits figureheavily in the dead and wounded. Thereinforcements sent to replace them have hadlittle training, and they drop like flies on thefront. They are younger than ever before.During anattack, Paul finds Himmelstoss in a dugout,pretending to be wounded. Paul forces him out withblows and threats.
They rush forward with theattack. The old hands try to teach some of the newrecruits some combat tricks and knowledge duringthe hours of rest. They forget it when thefighting begins again. Haie Westhus receives afatal wound. When the Second Company is relieved,only thirty-two are left of the original onehundred fifty men.
CommentaryThe conditions in thetrenches are nearly unimaginable for those whohave never known war.First, the trenches stank.Soldiers slept, ate, and defecated in the sametrenches. Bodies lay rotting by the hundreds ofthousands in No Man’s Land and in the trenchesthemselves. The rotting corpses attracted legionsof rats. They grew large, fat, and extremelyaggressive.
Not only did they compete withsoldiers for food, but they also occasionallyoverpowered and ate wounded men who could notdefend themselves.The rats, lice, feces, andcorpses in and around the trenches provided aparadise for disease-causing microbes. Men whostood for hours in the filthy, water-loggedtrenches without changing their socks or dryingtheir boots for hours developed trench foot.Thevictim gradually lost the sensation in his feetwhile the skin turned red or blue. Untreatedtrench foot could lead to gangrene which almostcertainly mean amputation. Moreover, owing thedifficulty in delivering food and water to thetrenches during bombardments, soldiers often hadto resort to drinking the filthy water in thetrenches.
It is important to remember that TheGreat War occurred before the discovery ofantibiotics, and that a shortage of medicalsupplies such as antiseptics, clean bandages, andpainkillers quickly became a problem. In hospitalswith particularly bad shortages, doctors andnurses were forced to use salt to disinfectwounds. Imagine having a handful of salt rubbedinto a wound or an amputated stump without thebenefit of adequate painkillers.World War I wasthe first war in which the killing did not ofteninvolve seeing the enemy face to face. It was alsothe first war in which the enemy was demonizedthrough an intense, organized campaign ofpropaganda.De-humanizing the enemy made killinghim more palatable. The weapons were designed tomaim and kill as many people as possible.
Moreover, they were designed to cause horrificdeaths in order to terrorize the remaining enemysurvivors and demoralize their fighting spirit.Grenades, machine guns, poison gas, shells, andsaw bayonets were just a few common weapons.Beforemodern trench warfare, inventive militarystrategies and sweeping victories were possible.The Great War quickly became characterized bybattles of attrition. The goal was not “victory,”but to wear down the enemy’s ability to attack oreven continue the war. The strategy was basic. Theattacking side bombarded enemy trenchesrelentlessly, sometimes for up to a week. Thedeath toll from bombardment compared to the deathtoll in the actual attack was comparatively low.
The Germans in particular built strong bomb-proofdugouts, although those built later were of lesserquality.After the bombardment, a wave ofattacking soldiers advanced on the enemytrenches.Unfortunately, the defending side knewthe attack was coming the moment the bombingended.
They manned their machine guns and moweddown the attacking soldiers. The result was anever-growing collection of bodies in No Man’sLand. The major battles of attrition in The GreatWar resulted in hundreds of thousands ofcasualties. There really was no “victor” becausethe gains usually meant a few hundred yards ofground. Generally, they ended in stalemates withan unprecedented cost in human lives and humansuffering.The soldiers not only faced the constantthreat of physical injury and death.They facedintense psychological stress. During bombardments,they often huddled for days in crowded dugouts.
The weight of uncertainty wore down a soldier’smental reserves because mere chance oftendetermined his survival or his death. When othersoldiers cracked, the remaining soldiers had evenmore difficulty remaining calm. They saw everyimaginable form of damage to the human body. Theylistened to the death throes of the wounded anddying in No Man’s land. Often, they were unable toretrieve the victims, and some of them took daysto die.They suffered the trauma of being buriedalive when their dugouts were hit by enemyshells.Early in the war, doctors noticed acondition they later termed “shell shock.” In ourtime, shell shock is called post-traumatic stresssyndrome, a recognized psychological disorder.
InWorld War I, the army was not very sympathetic toshell shock victims, accusing them of cowardice orweakness. Some of the victims never recovered.Other soldiers, unable to withstand the relentlesswear on their mental reserves, committed suicideby shooting themselves or walking directly intoenemy fire.Paul’s description of the Germanresponse to the attack leaves no doubt as to thedecidedly unromantic nature of trench warfare.
TheGermans rout the enemy from their own trenches.However, they do not achieve this success out ofpatriotic fervor or bravery. They are men drivento the brink of insanity. They savagely kill andmaim the attackers, not because they are enemiesof the fatherland, but because they can do nothingelse to release the anxiety, stress, and terror ofdays long bombardment.Despite the fantasticsuccess of the German soldier’s defense, there arenumerous clues in this chapter that Germany islosing the war.The English and the French haveincreased the strength of their artillery, but theGerman weapons are worn so badly that the shellsoften fall into German trenches, killing Germansoldiers. The new recruits are younger than everbefore, and they have had scant training. As aresult, they die in numbers five to ten timeshigher than experienced soldiers.
Germany isrunning out of able-bodied adult men. The soldiersare being killed and wounded at such a rate thatthey cannot even effectively train the boys theysend to replace the men they have lost.Both sidesof the conflict were guilty of sendinghorrendously undertrained boys to die senselesslyin trench warfare. Countries entertained the ideathat it was romantic and heroic that young boysdied for their country.There are records ofchildren as young as twelve and thirteen servingas soldiers in the war.
Remarque bitterlyillustrates that they died defending nothingbecause they were too young and too unprepared todefend their own lives much less their country.AllQuiet on the Western Front – Chapter 7SummaryTheSecond Company is sent to a depot forre-organization. Himmelstoss tries to make goodwith them after having been to the front. Hebecomes generous with food and easy jobs for them,and even wins Tjaden over. Good food and rest areenough to make a soldier content. Away from thetrenches he makes vulgar jokes as usual.
Otherwise, there is no hope for him.Over time,his humorous jests become more bitter. He fleesmadness in a losing race.Paul, Leer, and Kroppmeet three women while they are swimming. Theycommunicate with them in broken French, indicatingthat they have food. They are forbidden to crossthe canal, and the women are not allowed to do soeither. Later that night, they gather some foodand swim across, wearing nothing more than theirboots.
The women throw them clothing.Despite thelanguage barrier, they chatter endlessly. Theycall the soldiers, “poor boys.” Paul isinexperienced, but he yields to desire. He hopesto recapture a piece of his innocence and youthwith a woman who does not belong to the armybrothels.Paul receives seventeen days of leave.Afterwards, he has to report to a training base.He returns to the front in six weeks.
He wondershow many of his friends will survive six weeks.The woman on the other side of the canal is notinterested to hear about his leave. If he weregoing to the front, it would be more exciting.WhenPaul reaches his home town, he finds that hismother is ill with cancer. The civilian populationis slowly starving.He cannot shake a feeling of”strangeness.” He no longer feels at home in hisfamily’s house.
His mother asks if it was “verybad out there.” Paul lies to her. He has no wordsto describe his experiences that she wouldunderstand.A Major becomes angry that Paul doesnot salute him in the street. As a punishment, heforces Paul to do a march in the street and salutesmartly. Paul wishes to avoid further suchincidents, so he begins wearing civilian clothing.
Paul’s father, unlike his mother, keeps asking himquestions. He does not understand that it isdangerous for Paul to put his experiences intowords.Others who do not ask questions take toomuch pride in their silence.
Sometimes, thetramcars’ screeching startles him because theysound like shells. Paul sits in his bedroom withhis books and pictures, trying to recapture thefeelings of youth and desire, but the memories areonly shadows. His identity as a soldier is theonly thing to which he can cling.Paul learns froma fellow classmate, Mittelstaedt, now a trainingofficer, that Kantorek has been called up aterritorial. When he met Kantorek, Mittelstaedtlorded his authority as a superior officer overhis old schoolmaster.
He bitterly remindedKantorek that he preached Joseph Behm intoenlisting against the boy’s wishes.He would havebeen called within three months anyway. As aresult, Joseph died three months sooner than hewould have otherwise. Mittelstaedt arranged to beplaced in charge of Kantorek’s company and takesevery chance to humiliate him, miming Kantorek’sold admonitions as a schoolmaster.Paul’s motherbecomes sadder as the end of his leave loomscloser.
Paul visits Kemmerich’s mother to deliverthe news of her son’s death. She demands to knowhow he died, but Paul lies to her by telling herhe died quickly with little pain and suffering. Heswears by everything he holds “sacred.”Paul’smother sits with him in his bedroom the last nightof his leave.He tried to pretend that he isasleep, but he notes that she is in great physicalpain.
He urges her to return to bed. Paul wisheshe could weep in her lap and die with her. Hewishes he had never come on leave because it onlyawakens pain for himself and his mother.
CommentaryPaul, Leer, and Kropp’s liaison with thethree French women is an important symbolic eventin All Quiet on the Western Front. Most of Paul’ssexual experiences have occurred in the armybrothels. The character of his sexual experiencesrepresents a further loss of youthful innocence.Paul wants his experience with the French woman torecapture some of his youthful innocence.It isnot insignificant that he symbolically seeksrefuge in the arms of the enemy. In a sense, hisactions imply that the redemption he seeks cannotcome from his leaders or his fellow Germans. Theypressured him into the horrific trenches, so theybetrayed him.
They offer him prostitutes in thearmy brothels, further engaging in the destructionof his youthful innocence.However, Paul does notfind understanding or recognition of the value ofhis humanity from the woman. He clashes again withthe romantic idealizations of war. For her, he isa passing, perhaps titillating, sentimentalfantasy for her.He is attractive because he isyoung and lives in constant mortal danger on thefront. She is not interested in hearing about hisleave to go home.
If she were never to see himagain because he was returning to the front, hewould be more exciting for her. She wants him tobe an abstract symbol, but he wants her to see himas a human being.At home, people approach him inthe streets because they want to be seen servingor talking to a soldier. For them, he is therepresentation of their romantic, patrioticideals.
He also runs into yet another pettyauthority figure.We have seen pompous, ridiculouspower hungry men in Kantorek and Himmelstoss. TheMajor who humiliates him in public is stillobsessed with the distinctions and formalities ofrank. He does not recognize the immense amount ofsuffering Paul has experienced. Again, the themeof betrayal is important. The authority figuresthat demanded he become a soldier and fight do notdemonstrate any understanding or respect for himeven after all the sacrifices he has made.
Pauldoes not want to talk about the truth of trenchwarfare with his family or with the civilians whoask him about it. Partly, his reluctance is due tohis need to maintain emotional distance from histerrible experiences.Putting those experiencesand his reactions to them into words threatens themental reserves he will need when he returns tothe front. Partly, he is reluctant because thosewho have never seen the ravages of trench warfarecannot possibly understand it. Truthfullydescribing them would also raise the risk of beingbranded as unpatriotic. It would make the wareffort sounds like a pointless, brutal exercise infutility. He also does not want to discuss hisexperiences because the truth will cause pain forhis family.
In their own way, they are sufferingas well.He does not want to add to their pain bytelling them what the war is really like.Paul’svisit to Kemmerich’s mother also threatens hisneed to emotionally distance himself from histraumatic experiences. He faces the pain of agrieving mother, and this threatens to open thegates of his own grief. He lies to her about thecircumstances of her son’s death because he cannotdeal with his own anguish at watching a friend diea bad death. He swears on everything he holdssacred because he wants to escape, but alsobecause he really no longer holds anythingsacred.Paul’s visit to his home town also revealsmore clues to the fact that Germany is losing thewar. The civilian population is suffering from asevere food shortage.
In some ways, Paul’sreluctance to be truthful about the war is alsodue to his reluctance to tell his fellow citizensthat their own suffering is senseless.They needjustification for their sacrifices towards the wareffort.All Quiet on the Western Front – Chapters8-9SummaryPaul reports to the training camp. Nextto the camp is a prison for captured Russiansoldiers. They pick through the garbage for food.Paul can hardly understand how they find anythingin the garbage. Food is so scarce that everythingis eaten. Paul can scarcely believe that these menwith “honest, peasant’s faces” are the enemy.
Manyare slowly starving, and they are stricken withdysentery in large numbers.Their soft voicesbring images of warm, cozy homes to Paul’s mind.Most people ignore their begging. A few kickthem.The brotherly spirit between the prisonerstouches Paul. They live in such miserablecircumstances that it is no use for them to fightamongst themselves anymore. Paul cannot relate tothem as individual men because he knows nothing oftheir lives.
He only sees the animal suffering inthem. People he has never met said the word thatmade these men the enemy.Because of other men,they must shoot, maim, and kill one another. Paulpushes these thoughts away because they threatenhis dissolution. He breaks all of his cigarettesin half and gives them to the prisoners.
One ofthe prisoners learns that Paul plays the piano. Heplays his violin next to the fence. The musicsounds thin and lonely in the night air.It onlymakes Paul sadder.Before he returns to the front,Paul’s sister and father visit him. They cannotfind anything to talk about except his mother’sillness. The hours are an agony for them. Hismother is in the hospital with cancer.
His fatherdid not even ask what the operation would costbecause he fears the doctors will not perform thesurgery if he does. Before they leave, they givePaul some jam and potato cakes that his mothermade for him.He plans to give them to theRussians because he has no appetite for them.
Heremembers that his mother must have been in painwhen she made them, so he gives them only twocakes.When Paul returns to the front, he findsKat, Muller, Tjaden, and Kropp still alive anduninjured. He shares his potato cakes with them.The Kaiser is scheduled or a visit, so everythingis cleaned. All the soldiers are given newclothes.
Paul and the others are disappointed tosee that he is not a very remarkable man. After heleaves, the new clothes are taken away.They musethat 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 Frenchare doing the same. They conclude that wars areuseful only for leaders who want to be in thehistory books.Paul volunteers to crawl into NoMan’s Land to gather information about the enemy’sstrength. On his way back, he becomes lost.
Abombardment begins, and he knows an attack iscoming. He has to lie still and pretend to bedead. He crawls into a shell hole to wait.Anenemy solider crashes into the shell hole withhim, and Paul stabs him quickly. It is too lightto make his way back.
Later he notices that theFrench soldier is not dead. Paul bandages hiswounds and gives him water. The man takes severalhours to die. It is the first time Paul has killedsomeone in hand to hand combat, and the experiencerends his soul.
Paul talks to the dead soldier,explaining that he did not want to kill him.Paulfinds a picture of a woman and a little girl inthe man’s pocketbook. He reads what he can of theletters tucked inside. Every word is an agony toread. The dead man’s name is Gerard Duval, and hewas a printer by trade. Paul copies his addressand resolves to send money to his familyanonymously. As dark falls again, Paul’s survivalinstinct re-awakens.He knows he will not fulfillhis promise.
He crawls back to his trench. Hourslater, he confesses the experience of killing theprinter. Kat and Kropp draw his attention to theirsnipers enjoying their job of picking off enemysoldiers. They point out that he took no pleasurefrom his killing and he had no choice unlike thesnipers. CommentaryPaul’s experiences with theRussian prisoners is another attack on theromantic, patriotic ideals of the war.He cannotsee them as enemies.
Other people more powerfulthan he and the prisoners made them enemies.Someone else decided they had to shoot, kill, andtorture one another. Paul quickly flees thesethoughts. The philosophical reaction only makesthe senselessness of everything he has experiencedall too apparent. It threatens the last thresholdof hope he has.
He decides to save his thoughtsfor a later time because he can afford toentertain them now.Nationalistic spirit thatdrove several countries into unprecedented levelsof carnage. The leaders of these various nationsdisseminated propaganda telling their citizensthat there was an essential difference betweenthem and the enemy. Paul finds such ideasridiculous and dangerous. The prisoners actuallyonly remind him of German peasants. They seem nodifferent and no less human. Yet, they would berequired to kill one another if the prisoners werefree.
Paul’s subsequent discussion with hiscomrades continues in the same vein.The irony ofThe Great War is that soldiers on both sides weresent to war based on the same ideals. After thiscrucial realization, they cannot determine who isright and who is wrong. In the end, those idealsare used by power- and status-hungry leaders toseduce other citizens into supporting a war thatdoes nothing but harm them. The wars are usefulonly to very few men who never actually seecombat.
A small number of leaders made thedecision to enter a war that cost millions oflives. The senselessness of the matter is thatfewer than thirty men made that decision.Paul’sentrance into No Man’s Land as a spy is one of themost dangerous jobs in trench warfare.It alsoprovides the conditions for the most traumaticexperience he suffers in the novel. For the firsttime, he kills a man in hand to hand combat.
Hesees the enemy face to face, so he is forced torealize the true cost behind his taking of anotherhuman being’s life. Gerard Duval is not a vaguefigure he kills from a distance. Paul is disgustedto find blood on his hand after he stabs Gerard.Paul bandages Gerard once he realizes that he isnot dead. Paul is shocked to see the terror in theGerard’s eyes.Paul is forced to realize that heis the object of such fear. He hesitates to readGerard’s name in his paybook because his victimwill take on en even more concrete identity. He isforced to see what he has destroyed.
He is forcedto realize that Gerard’s wife and child arevictims of his actions as well.By the time Paulreturns to the trenches, he ceases to refer toGerard as an individual. He calls him “theprinter.” It is difficult to judge him morallybecause he cannot survive the war if he does notemotionally distance himself from the experience.He cannot function as a soldier if he remains inthe grips of grief and remorse he experienced inthe hours after the Gerard’s death.Remarque’ssympathetic portrayal of the enemy is an attack onthe nationalistic values that provoked The GreatWar.
When the enemy becomes human, the romanticpatriotism that fueled the war effort becomes aheinous crime.Men were pitted against one anotherunder the very same banners: home, country, andfamily. The enemies are also fathers, husbands,and sons, not monsters.
All Quiet on the WesternFront – Chapter 10SummaryPaul, Tjaden, Muller,Kropp, Detering, and Kat have to guard an emptyvillage because a supply dump is there. They arealso supposed to supply themselves from the dump.They choose a dug-out and proceed to takeadvantage of the opportunity to eat and sleep asmuch as they can. They take a large mahogany bed,mattresses, and blankets into their dug-outbecause such comforts are a luxury they do notenjoy normally. They collect eggs, butter, andthey have the amazing luck to find two sucklingpigs. They proceed to collect fresh vegetables andcook a grand dinner in a well-outfitted kitchenhear the dug-out.Paul makes pancakes while theothers roast the pigs.Unfortunately, the enemynotes the smoke rising from the chimney andproceeds to bomb the house.
The men gather thefood and make a dash for the dugout. Paul finishesthe pancakes while the bombs fall around him. Oncehe finishes, he grabs the plate of pancakes andmanages to get to the dug-out without losing asingle one. The meal lasts four hours. Afterwards,they smoke cigars and cigarettes from the supplydump.
They drink coffee, and begin eating againbefore they end the night with cognac. They evenfeed a stray cat. The richness of the meal aftersuch long deprivation causes them to suffer boutsof diarrhea all night.For two weeks, the men livea “charmed life” before they are moved again. Theytake the bed, two arm chairs, and the cat withthem. While they are evacuating another village,Kropp and Paul are wounded by a falling shell.
They find an ambulance wagon after struggling outof the zone of the shelling. Albert has beenwounded very close to his knee.He resolves tocommit suicide if they amputate his leg. Paul’sleg is broken and his arm is wounded. He andAlbert arrange to travel to the hospital in thesame train car together by bribing asergeant-major with cigars.
Albert develops a feverand must stop at the Catholic hospital nearby.Paul fakes an illness to go with him. The firstday, Paul has to fight to get the nuns to closethe door while they pray.
The patients cannotsleep for the noise. Albert’s fever does notimprove, so they amputate his leg from the thigh.Men die daily at the hospital.The amazing arrayof maiming wounds shows Paul that a hospital isthe best place to learn what war is about.
Hewonders what will happen to his generation afterthe war ends. How can they live a normal life whentheir first calling was killing?Lewandowski, aforty year-old soldier, is recuperating from a badabdominal injury. He is excited that his wife iscoming to visit him with the child she bore afterhe left to fight two years before. He wanted to goout with his wife because he has not slept withher for two years. Before she arrives, he developsa fever, so he is confined to bed.When shearrives, she is nervous. Lewandowski explains whathe wants, and she blushes furiously.
The otherpatients tell her that social niceties are no goodduring this day and age. Two men guard the door incase a doctor or one of the nuns arrives to checkon a patient. Albert holds the child, and theother patients play cards and chat loudly withtheir backs to the couple. The plan is carried outwithout a problem.
Lewandowski’s wife shares thefood she brought with the patients.Paul healswell. The hospital begins using paper bandagesbecause the cloth ones have become scarce. Kropp’sleg heals, but he is more solemn and lesstalkative than he used to be.
Paul thinks he wouldhave killed himself if he were not in a room withother patients. Paul receives leave to go home andfinish healing. Parting from his mother is harderthan the last time.She is weaker than before.CommentaryThe scenes in the evacuated village arefull of a certain bitter comedy.
Paul and hisfriends make use of the opportunity to celebrateand live a charmed life because the chances torelax and become human are so few and far between.While Paul’s decision to stay and finish hispancakes while bombs are falling around thekitchen seems like a gross misalignment ofpriorities, there is a strange, crazy logic to it.Pancakes are his favorite dish. He could easilydie tomorrow and never have them again. However,there is a dark side to this scene. The men grabtheir food first and then they seek shelter.
Paulfinishes the last four pancakes before he runs forshelter.He and his friends are so used to beingbombed and shot at, that they can actuallymaintain the nerve to preserve their meal.Moreover, they are so starved and hungry for realfood that they are actually willing to risk theirlives for it. At the same time, their antics whileguarding the supply dump provide an instance ofhope. Small elements of humanity and human follycan actually survive the trenches.The ride in thetrain with Albert is also full of comedic humor.Despite the dirtiness and coarseness of life inthe trenches, Paul still suffers from a boyishmodesty in his reluctance to tell one of thenurses he needs to go to the bathroom. He does notwant to lie in the bunks because the sheets are soclean and he is so dirty.
The Catholic hospitalalso contains moments when Paul’s boyish innocenceshows signs of surviving. He throws a bottle atthe door in order to force the nuns’ to shut itwhen they pray.Another man takes the blamebecause he has a medical excuse for irrational,impetuous outbursts. Paul and the other patientsreact with glee when they discover this becausethey know they can commit all sorts of mischiefand infractions of the rules. The patient with thelicense to misbehave without consequences canalways take credit for it.
Lewandowski’s feverishanticipation of his wife’s visit demonstrates thatthe normal course of human concerns can indeedsurvive the trenches. Moreover, the scene in whichhe carried out his plan also shows theextraordinary level of familiarity and intimacythat soldiers share with one another. No one takesoffense at his desire to enjoy conjugal relationswith his wife while they are in the room. In fact,they all take part in the plan by preventingdoctors and nuns from interrupting itsprogress.However, there is a dark side to thecomedic humor in the scenes at the hospital aswell.Men die every day from their wounds.Lewandowski may never see his wife again becausehe might not survive his wounds.
Moreover,overzealous doctors use wounded soldiers as guineapigs for their crackpot ideas. One doctor cripplesa number of otherwise able-bodied young soldiersby trying to cure their flat feet. Kropp suffersan intense depression over the loss of his leg.The use of paper bandages in the hospital revealsthat Germany is suffering even greater shortagesin necessary resources for the war effort. It alsoanother clue to the fact that Germany is losingthe war, but still continuing to prosecuteit.Moreover, the hospital is filled with mensuffering from permanently disfiguring injuries.
There are wards for soldiers suffering from poisongas injuries, amputations, blindness, and variousother injuries. The hospital in a museum of thevast array of maiming or lethal injuries to whichthe human body is subject in modern warfare.It isthe place where the most succinct and shockingevidence of the human costs of war can be seen.Bibliography:.