All Quiet on the Western Front
Important Quotations Explained
book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least
of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who
stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation
of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed
by the war.
us lads of eighteen they ought to have been mediators and guides
to the world of maturity . . . to the future . . . in our hearts
we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented,
was associated in our minds with a greater insight and a more humane
wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief. We had
to recognize that our generation was more to be trusted than theirs.
. . . The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it
the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces.
the sound of the first droning of the shells we rush back, in one
part of our being, a thousand years. By the animal instinct that
is awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious;
it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness.
. . . It is this other, this second sight in us, that has thrown
us to the ground and saved us, without our knowing how. . . . We
march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers—we reach the zone where
the front begins and become on the instant human animals.
as we turn into animals when we go up to the line . . . so we turn
into wags and loafers when we are resting. . . . We want to live
at any price; so we cannot burden ourselves with feelings which,
though they may be ornamental enough in peacetime, would be out
of place here. Kemmerich is dead, Haie Westhus is dying . . . Martens
has no legs anymore, Meyer is dead, Max is dead, Beyer is dead, Hammerling
is dead . . . it is a damnable business, but what has it to do with
us now—we live.
I did not want to kill you. . . . But you were only an idea to me
before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its
appropriate response. . . . I thought of your hand-grenades, of
your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and
our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late.
Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that
your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same
fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony—Forgive me, comrade;
how could you be my enemy?
by OverlyDramatic, August 14, 2012
Early in the book, before Kemmerich's death, Paul pictures the man's nails and growing after his death, into long spirals and corkscrews. While this is a powerful visual, it is not true. A corpse's skin shrinks away from its nails and hair after death, giving the appearance of increased length. Sorry if I grossed you out, but that was on my test and I thought you should know just in case.
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by UltimateJBFan98, March 31, 2013
Okay. Here is my advice to you. Read all through SparkNotes as you read through the book. I was soo confused til I looked on SparkNotes. But of course I looked over Spring Break right before the final test! It is a good book when you understand it TRUST ME! Yah -Sydney
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