In fact true communication can exist in the world of the war with few or no

In fact true communication can exist in the world of

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In fact, true communication can exist in the world of the war with few or no words said at all. This phenomenon is perhaps best demonstrated in the novel during a scene involving Baumer and his Second Company mate, Stanislaus Katczinsky. This scene, with its Eucharistic overtones, can be counterpoised to Baumer's meeting with Kemmerich's mother. During that meeting, Frau Kemmerich insisted on some kind of verbal attestation of Baumer's spiritual disposition. As noted above, he is quite willing to give her such an asseveration because the words he uses in doing so mean nothing to him. With Katczinsky, though, the situation is different because the spirituality of the event is such that words are not necessary, in fact, would be hindrances to the communion Baumer and Katczinsky attain. The scene is a simple one. After Baumer and Katczinsky have stolen a goose, in a small deserted lean-to they eat it together. We sit opposite one another, Kat and I, two soldiers in shabby coats, cooking a goose in the middle of the night. We don't talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have ... The grease drips from our hands, in our hearts we are close to one another ... we sit with a goose between us and feel in unison, are so intimate that we do not even speak. (Remarque, All Quiet V. 87) These elemental and primitive activities of getting and then eating food bring about a communion, a feeling "in unison," between the two men that clearly cannot be found in the word-heavy environment of Baumer's home town. Perhaps Remarque wants to make the point that true communication can occur only in action, or in silence, or almost accidentally. At any rate, Baumer demonstrates toward the end of his life that even he is not immune from verbal duplicity of a kind that was used on him to get him to enlist. Soon after he hears the comforting words of his comrades (see above), Baumer is caught in another shell hole during the bombardment. Here, he is forced to kill a Frenchman who jumps into it while attacking the German lines. Baumer is horrified at his action. He notes, "This is the first time I have killed with my hands, whom I can see close at hand, whose death is my doing" (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 193). That is, the war, and his part in it, have become much more personalized because now he can actually see the face of his enemy. In his grief, Baumer takes the dead man's pocket-book from him so that he can find out the deceased's name and family situation. Realizing that the man he killed is no monster, that, in fact, he had a family, and is evidently very much like himself, Baumer begins to make promises to the corpse. He indicates that he will write to his family and goes so far as to promise the corpse that he, Baumer, will take his place on earth: "'I have killed the printer, Gerard Duval. I must be a printer'" (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 197). More importantly, Baumer renounces his status as soldier by apologizing to the corpse for killing him.

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