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Transcript of english presentation
making someone less human by taking
away their individuality or creativity. "We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down..." (113) Paul is willing to put everything aside and kill this man just to survive. When he says "It hammers in my forehead" he means that the idea is the first thought that comes to his head and is his only overpowering thought - his will to survive. He does not think of justice and compassion at this moment. He must do what he can in order to survive. "We are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and kill" (116) Paul says that they are now dead men that do not think about killing other people, they only do it out of routine. They have lost any connection with other human beings. They are dead men who are trained to kill, but really have already lost all feeling towards others. "We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers - we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals." (56) Paul says that once the men reach the front, they become animals. The fact that they become animals shows that their instincts kick in right when they reach the front. Also, when he refers to the men as animals, he means that the men feel as if their generals are their owners. An owner can command and take advantage of its pet. Just like a dog is taught tricks, a soldier is trained to fight and obey his general. "Our hands are earth, our bodies clay and our eyes pools of rain. We do not know whether we still live." (287) This shows the full dehumanization
of a soldier. His hands are earth due to the instincs that he has acquired through war. An example is throwing himself to the ground when he hears a gun shell. His body is clay due to the way the war has influenced and changed him. He has also lost his individuality through fitting the mold of the army, he becomes one with the other men. His eyes are pools of tears because of the mental and emotional change that has taken over him. When a person is deprived of human qualities such as:
individuality compassion civility Simply defined as: "The blast of the hand-grenades impinges powerfully on our arms and legs; crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils;"(114) When the blast of the hand-grenade hits the men, they immediately turn into animals. They crouch like a cat because it is their natural war instinct. The blast urges them to act more ferociously and gives them more will to fight back. Remarque refers to the men as "thugs", "murderers", and "devils". This shows that the soldiers begin to kill others intentionally. They have become angry and can no longer control themselves. "Just as we turn into animals when we go up to the line, because that is the only thing which brings us through safely, so we turn into wags and loafers when we are resting. We can do nothing else, it is a sheer necessity. We want to live at any price; so we cannot burden ourselves with feelings which, though they might be ornamental enough in peacetime, would be out of place here." (138-139) Dehumanization is shown in this quote because Paul is
saying that the soldiers must distance themselves as
far away from peace as possible. In order to survive, they shouldn't even think of peace. Their mental reasoning is changing because of war. When a soldier reaches the front, he turns into an animal. When he is resting, he is lazy and jokes around. He diregards anything that has to do with getting his hopes up on the subject of peace. Who is Paul? He was one of the four 19 year old men to join the army as a volunteer straight out of school. What is Paul like? "It is strange to think that at home
in the drawer of my writing table there
lies the beginning of a play called "Saul"
and a bundle of poems. Many an evening
I have worked over them...but that has
become so unreal to me I cannot
comprehend it any more." (19) Paul is a proufound young man. One can assume that because Paul writes poetry and plays, he thinks in depth and never leaves a thought untouched. Paul is a visionary who sees things in a differnt perspective. This also shows that before the war, Paul was a regular boy who had time to write poetry and plays. It shows that he is both poetic and artistic. "I often become so lost in the play of soft light and transparent
shadow, that I almost fail to hear the commands. It is when one
is alone that one begins to observe Nature and to love her. And
here I have not much companionship and do not even desire it."
(188-189) Paul not only thinks in depth, but he is
also sensitive. He talks about admiring Nature and loving her. The fact the he writes poems
shows that he is sensitive. Through this quote
we not only learn that Paul is sensitive, but
that he uses reason to override the sensitivity because he knows that that is the only way that he will survive at war. "Comerade I didn't want to kill you." (223) Paul tries to block his feelings out, but it is too hard for him.
Paul struggles with just forgetting all about morals, and just killing people. It is hard for him just to kill one person, when he has been killing hundreds each day. He knows that he must do it in order to survive, but it is difficult. Paul talks to this French soldier as if he were one of his friends. Paul is big on brotherhood. His army friends are his family.