At the front they experience firsthand the gruesome

This preview shows page 4 - 6 out of 7 pages.

At the front, they experience firsthand the gruesome realities of the war; in one of the early chapters they visit Kemmerich, one of their class- mates whose leg has been amputated after suf- fering a wound in battle. As Kemmerich lies dy- ing, another of Baumer's comrades, Muller, asks if he can have Kemmerich's boots, a request that illustrates the cold practicality of warfare. Before Kemmerich dies, he tells Baumer to give the boots to Muller. Between battles, Baumer and his friends smoke cigarettes, relax, and forage for food in the surrounding countryside. The group forms a L ' T E R A T U R A N D T S T I M E S V O L U M E 11
close bond of friendship despite the grueling con- All Quiet on the ditions in the trenches. Western Front As the number of casualties grows, Baumer's company is reduced from 150 men to 80, and younger men are brought to the front. With the new men comes Himmelstoss, the despised boot camp sergeant. Himmelstoss continues his abu- sive behavior toward Baumer and his comrades, and the men plot revenge. Disguised in hoods, they find Himmelstoss away from the camp, pounce on him, and beat him. After being granted a leave, Baumer returns home to visit his mother, who is sick with can- cer. His stay proves less than pleasant. Unable to adjust even temporarily to a tranquil life back home, Baumer becomes anxious to rejoin his comrades. He readily returns to the trenches af- ter a tearful parting with his mother. In the trenches, the men cope with the dis- comforts of rats, lice, and deprivation. During a patrol into no man's land, Baumer takes cover in a shallow hole. When a French soldier also dives into the hole for cover, Baumer reflexively stabs him. Unable to make himself finish the French- man off, Baumer is tormented by guilt as he watches the young soldier die and realizes the senselessness of the war. During an attack Baumer is wounded by a shell and is taken to convalesce in a military hospital. The horrible wounds and deaths of many of the soldiers around him again rein- force his realization of the horrible human cost of the war. When Baumer is released from the hospital, he returns again to the front. In his absence ca- sualties have continued to mount. He is the only survivor among the students from Kantorek's class. The final chapter of the novel reports that Paul Baumer fell to his death on a day in which the army record consisted of a simple statement: all quiet on the western front. Remarque's antiwar sentiment. The novel's most potent and recurring focal point is of a sense of disillusionment with the institution of war. As Baumer spends a greater stretch of time at the front, he realizes with increasing clarity the hypocrisy of this war and the horrible real- ities of combat that the war propaganda of the older generation failed to mention. Listening to the conversations of his comrades, Baumer senses their disillusionment with the war and their feelings of betrayal by the older genera- tion. In one conversation between the men, the soldier Albert asks his friends, "But what I would like to know, is whether there would not Erich Maria Remarque have been a war if the Kaiser had said no?" Quiet on the Western Front, p. 203). The sold have realized by

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture