The Lost Generation
The guys who battled in World War I are said to be “The Lost Generation”. These brave kids fought in places grown men feared, these kids saw death as easy as the sun, these kids lost their childhood to war. These courageous souls fought for their country and in turn gave in their innocence and forever lost their souls. Paul explains how he feels they are “lost” (p.123), since they have forgotten the pleasures of enjoying a regular life without the sorrow and destruction of war.
The Destructiveness of War
The war in the novel seems to be a black hole that swallows up the young recruits: hopes, dreams, aspirations, and eventually their lifes. The men fight hard but the war tears away their world relentlessly and without an ounce of mercy. From food they once ate to their family and the civilian lives they will never truly have. Then, Paul admits he is “without hope”, and because of the war “they can’t take nothing” implying that the war has taken all that once mattered from him (p.295).
The one good thing that came out of the war was brotherhood. The fellowship that death and harsh treatment created between the men is unbound and uncomprehendable to no one except them. This bond was compared to that of the bond lovers share (p.94).
The men are in full trust and give their lives to their companions in arms this is a trust that is unmatched and it would only result by fighting off death together the way they have done. The statement “I love him”, that alones shows how close and the bond and trust they have with one another for together they are on the brink of death. Even when they detested each other on the front men forgot their differences and helped the other see the light of another day. Whenever Himmelstoss carried Haie its not normal for Himmelstoss to be this way since he had been tough on Haie when he first enlisted but, when they were fighting together he is his comrade and Himmelstoss tried to save him. So all their moments together could be their last, but in turn they become more than family they become their only to shoulder to rest and depend on they become Camarades.
The Corrupting Effect of Power
The novel explains a little on how human nature and how power can change a person. The war made the men in higher ranks torture the men in lower ranks with the real reason behind their actions was just because they now had the power to do so. No man has real power over another only in a war can a man order another around. Kat explains it simply “if you give a man a little bit of authority…he snaps at it”, which he says it is just nature and everyone will do it some maybe more than others but we are all essentially the same (p.44). Another example is Kantorek he encouraged men to enlist and was tough on the guys training. Later Mittelstaedt is promoted higher than Katorek and takes revenge and forces Kantorek who is now a rank under him to do drills harder than the other troops. This is the effect of power and how it can change the mind and corrupt the human soul.