“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death in not an adventure to those who stand face to face with is. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though thy may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.” (Introduction, page before title page)
This is a quote given by the author explaining the purpose of the book.
This is important because it tells the readers how to think about the novel. It is intended to help people understand what a particular group of men had to go though to fight for their country and in all of their effort to help, they were still left devastated.
“To no man does the earth mean so much as to the soldier. When he presses himself down upon her long and powerfully, when he buries his face and his limbs deep in her from the fear of death by shell-fire, then she is his only friend, his brother, his mother; he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and security; she shelters him and gives him a new lease of ten seconds of life, receives him again and often for ever.” (Page 55)
Paul’s thoughts right before a bombardment.
The story again refers to nature, or “mother earth,” as a symbol of peace. This quote also shows that the dirt and earth are the only real unchangeable things in war. Everything else, from friends, to food, to clothes change, but the ground is the same everywhere and always, thus creating a calming feeling.
“We have lost all feeling for one another. We can hardly control ourselves when our hunted glance lights on the form of some other man. We are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and to kill.” (Page 116)
Paul’s thoughts during a battle.
Through experience and training, killing has become a natural part of the soldiers lives and they do it with little question in their mind. They have also managed to live longer than it seems fate should allow them to. The battleground is increasingly dangerous making is unbelievable for them to be alive.
“A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.” (Page 193)
Paul thinking about his relationship to the Russian prisoners.
The men fighting as soldiers in the war are most often not offended personally by something done by a person on the opposite army. They are all men, just the same, and they all have lives that are similar to those of the opposing army. If it were not for the political leaders telling them to kill each other, they would likely never have met.
“He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come." (Page 296)
A brief account of Paul’s death.
This quote reassures the reader that Paul was welcome to death. He has suffered so much from the war and already new that because of this he was not going to be able to lead a successful post-war life. Death was a release from all of his pain and suffering.
"We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war." (Page 88)
Paul thinks to himself after a conversation of what the men will do after the war.
The boys were strongly encouraged to join the military by one of their teachers. The boys agreed without really knowing what lie in store for them. They were only young and looking for adventure. They did not want to be torn away from everything they had, nor were they ready for that. However, that is what the war brought with it.
“We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? That is long ago. We are old folk." (Page 18)
Paul mocking a letter from Kantorek and reflecting to himself.
Though all of the boys are young physically, they have aged mentally. They have had to face emotional issues as well as matters of logic and planning that are ordinarily dealt with by adults. They have been forced to mature to thus fit their environment.
"We have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important to us.” (Page 21)
The reason why Müller was asking for Kemmerich’s boots.
The boys lived in a harsh, down to earth environment where one’s most important job is to stay alive. This is what constantly occupies their minds and what must if they are to live.
“The war has ruined us for everything.” (Page 87)
A statement made by Albert after a talk about what his comrades were going to do after the war.
The war has stolen away their youth and their mind. Time that could have been spent learning and trying new things is now devoted to killing. Also, their once young minds have been aged by the trauma of war. Their entire mindset has been altered and everything they once knew has been replaced with a new brutal knowledge of war.
"But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. 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.” (Page 223)
Paul is speaking to a French soldier that he has just killed.
The men are taught that the other army must be destroyed. Therefore, the soldiers think that they are only fighting savage beasts that do not understand life. Paul is shocked when he stabs a Frenchman, killing him. He realizes that this man had a family that loved him, and job. He was just like men he had know while living at home, despite he being the enemy.