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Keiran Eagen

Humanities
9/11/2014

Seminar Reflection
There were many comments and ideas that were interesting, but a certain few caught my
attention. During the seminar Hope mentioned how the boys teacher Kantorek called Paul and
his friends the Iron Youth and how Paul felt as though he had grown out of his youth long ago. I
just thought that this comment was interesting because that section really captures the feeling of
being lost. Not knowing what to do when the war ends because you never experienced your
young adult life. Hope mentioned this quote because we were answering the question What is
the truth of war that the author is trying to convey through All Quiet on the Western Front? and
I think this quote was brought up because it does give really good factual evidence to answer that
question. Since this quote was brought up it really made me go deeper into finding other ideas or
quotes from the book that showed how they had been washed away as well. It made me go deep
into the book as well as my own thought. As I was thinking about this quote and the characters
loss of their youth it made me realize how important it is to live and experience things in the first
part of your life, but not to experience death and fear twenty four hours a day but rather to have
the terrible, bad, good, and splendiferous days. It just added to my earlier realizations about how
the war truly washed away the characters lives because their job was to kill people. Paul and his
classmates could never recover from something that as terrible as trench warfare which just made
me even more grateful that I will probably never have to experience it.
In chapter nine of All Quiet on the Western Front Paul realizes something about war and
the men that he is fighting. When he stabs the French soldiers he has a revelation that all the men
in this war want the same things in some or another. They want to be home, they are tired of the
constant shelling, and they just want to be back to their old lives when they were happier than
they are now. First he just follows his plan to survive I do not think at all, I make no decision at
all-I strike madly at home, and feel how the body suddenly convulses1 and he executes that
plan flawlessly, but once he has to sit in this shell whole and see this mans life end he takes on a
different view. His final realization happens as the man finally dies and he understands that they
all have the same fear of death and the same love of life.
A couple weeks ago we read an article by a German general and he spoke about how war
is needed for the human race to advance technology and progress into the future. In the seminar
we briefly touched on whether or not this book is an anti-war novel. I do not think the book is an
anti-war novel but I think Erich Maria Remarque sees war as a kind of fire. Forests need fire to
survive. Fire clears out the underbrush and leaves enough space for the trees to get sunlight and
water unstressed. I think he kind of sees war in the same way. It thins things out it lets us regrow
and allows create new and beautiful things. So no war is not good but it is needed sometimes for
the human race to become more advanced and intelligent. It is interesting how these two very
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All Quiet on the Western Front p.216

different people are almost agreeing in a way. They are saying different things that almost mean
the same thing.
I jump into the shell whole to get some cover as me and my comrades retreat from the
German lines. There is dead man in this whole, I will just have to endure sitting with him in the
shell whole. Just as I have reached my cover and I feel safe he jumps at me with a knife and I
suddenly feel a great pain in my chest. I suddenly feel powerless, I have no energy, and my body
will not respond to my minds commands. The German soldier sits back panting hard and looks at
me slaying here helplessly. At first he does nothing then he gives me some water and I feel
better. He mutters something in German and then repeatedly says comrade in my native
language. He pulls out his knife again and I become afraid that he is going to pierce my skin with
that gross knife again. Instead he cuts open my shirt and bandages me up. I relax, I breathe, and I
feel my life leaving me. He gives me more water, I feel it run down my dry throat. The German
knows I will not live much longer. He starts to calm himself and continues to look at me. I do not
know what I should do. I should die, I should say goodbye, I do not know anymore.