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Unformatted text preview: A number of themes, which will be abundantly developed throughout the novel, begin in this introductory chapter. Again and again Paul mentions his generation's loss of innocence. "Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk." He comments on Detering, who thinks of his farm and wife, an example of the peace-loving peasant swept up in a place and time from which he cannot escape. Loss of innocence is paralleled by the tragic loss of traditional values and faith. Kantorek, the object of Paul's bitterness, is only one of many German role models who convinced the lost generation that it was their duty to go to war. As Paul remarks, "The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces." Their lost innocence is partly a result of the violence and cruelty of man against man. They come up with euphemisms such as "pushing of the violence and cruelty of man against man....
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- Fall '08