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Chapter 1: Why is it Ironic that Kantorek refers to the men as the “Iron Youth”?

The Irony in “Iron Youth”

Kantorek refers to the men as “Iron Youth” because they are willing to do anything for their country. The “Iron Youth” describes a strong German man, who will fight to protect his country. When the men have read what Kantorek wrote to them, they think, “ Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk” (Remarque 18). The men are bitter about the term that Kantorek refers them to because the term does not accurately describe what their experiences were in the war. The men discover quite quickly that they are no longer children and must mature because they have faced the hardships of defending their country, and they no longer believe that they are “iron youth”.

Chapter 2: Why are Kemmerich’s boots significant?

The significance of Kemmerich’s boots

Kemmerich’s boots have an extremely significant value because the boots represent the insignificance in human life when it comes to survival during the war. After Kemmerich dies, Paul “…give[s] [Müller] the boots…[and] they fit well they fit well” (Remarque 33). Paul collected all of Kemmerich’s belongings and gave the boots to Müller because he had asked for them. Müller had been asking for the boots ever since Kemmerich was admitted into the infirmary, and when Müller got them, he had forgotten that they had belonged to someone else. No one spent any time grieving their friend’s passing. Immediately after Kemmerich’s death, Müller wears the boots as if nothing happened, which shows that human life has no value during the war, but a pair of boots does.

Chapter 3: Why is it ironic that Paul and his friends refer to themselves as “stone-age veterans” when they compare themselves to the recruits?

The irony in “stone-age veterans”

It is ironic when Paul and his friends refer to themselves as “stone-age veterans” because they are only ages 19 through 20, and the reinforcements are the same age or older. As the recruits walk in, “Kropp nudges [Paul]: ‘Seen the infants?’”(Remarque 35). The men watch the recruits walk in, and they try to show off their masculinity and maturity towards them. Paul and his friends refer to themselves as the “stone-age veterans” because even though they are similar in age, the recruits have not seen what Paul and they have seen before. They haven’t seen the horrors of the war but Paul and his friends have suffered through all of it and have witnessed many horrifying things.

Chapter 4: How does the scene with the horses move beyond the mere death of an animal? Is there something symbolic or representative of a larger idea in this scene?

The Symbolism of Horses to Death

The death of the horses symbolizes the death of innocence in mankind. One comrade believes that horses have a soul of innocence and are beautiful creatures. A young comrade had been severely injured and couldn’t survive, he was just “‘Young [and] innocent——’”( Remarque 73). During an attack, a young comrade had been injured so badly, they needed to put him out of his misery. The horses symbolize all the young men fighting for their country. Most of them are 20 years old or younger and are full of innocence. They have barely experienced what life has to offer and will not be able to anymore.

Chapter 5: What dreams do the various members of the group have about going home? What do these dreams tell you about their characters? 2 chunks

The Dreams of the Comrades

The members talk about what dreams they have for their lives outside of the war. Detering dreams about “‘…harvesting’” when he gets home (Remarque 80). He is worried about his farm back home because his wife is the only one looking out for it. Detering dreams about going back to his old life, working and doing something he enjoys at the same time. His dreams show us that he is human and has the same desires as anyone else fighting in the war.

Unlike Detering’s dream to go back home and work, Kropp dreams about going back home and doing nothing but getting drunk. The men tell him to respond seriously, but Kropp says “What else should a man do?” (Remarque 77). Kropp has no hope for when he returns home, he believes that he should just do nothing because he’s going to die anyway. Some of the other members have hope for when they go home, but Kropp thinks that he should drink and do nothing worth his time because everyone dies one way or another.

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Chapter 6: To what level are the men reduced during an attack?

Wild Beasts during an Attack

The men stoop down to a level of greed when it comes to life because, on the war front, the goal is who can survive. The men “…have become wild beasts. [They] do not fight, [they] defend [themselves] against annihilation” (Remarque 113). Paul says that they have become wild beasts now because they no longer sit and wait helplessly, they attack and kill if it means they will make it out alive. The men have never been greedy during the war; they share food, and supplies, and give each other support. Now they are defending themselves against death and have become greedy with life because they want to survive.

Chapter 7: Why does Paul say he should never have gone on leave?

Paul’s Regret Going on Leave

Paul’s coming home had brought all these feelings and memories back to him, making him feel emotionally unstable. Paul is finally at home with his family, “But a sense of strangeness will not leave [him]” (Remarque 160). He feels strange being back at home because now he faces reality, with his mom being ill and his family not being able to make enough. Coming back home put a pause in his life on the front. At home, he feels a rush of emotions coming to him because on the front they turned their emotions off to focus on fighting but now at home his mother’s illness makes him sad, and speaking with Kemmerich’s mother as well.

Chapter 8: What is wrong with Paul’s mother? What is the author’s purpose in including his mother’s condition?

Paul’s Mother’s Condition

Paul’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors are unsure if it can be cured. Paul’s father doesn’t want to ask how much surgery would cost because then “‘— the surgeon might take it amiss and that would not do; he must operate on Mother”(Remarque 197). They are unsure of the cost of surgery but could not even think to ask the doctor because he might back out of doing it. Paul’s father works so hard, even when he is tired and overworked, but he doesn’t know if they have enough money to pay for the surgery, and that makes them feel bitter. Paul wishes he could help them, but there is nothing he can do because people look down on poor people.

Chapter 9: Why is Paul so affected by Duval’s death?

Duval’s effect on Paul

Paul kills an enemy man, Gérard Duval, for the first time and is overwhelmed with guilt. Paul repeated over and over again “‘I want to help you, Comrade…’” to Duval (Remarque 220). Paul brutally stabbed an enemy man, who fell into a pit that Paul was hiding in and was guilt-ridden about what he had just done. Paul had never felt this way before. He kept trying to keep Duval alive and begged for forgiveness. This guilt changed the way Paul feels about killing; he never wanted to kill him, and he never wanted to be enemies either, he just wants everything to be over.

Chapter 10: What role does God/Religion play in this novel?

Religion to the Comrades

God and religion were played by an absence of faith within the soldiers. At the Catholic Hospital, the sisters were saying prayers for the men but the men kept telling them to “‘Shut the door’”(Remarque 251). The sisters say prayers every morning, with all the doors open, so everyone can get their share of prayers. The men have faced the deaths of their friends and comrades, and there has never been a God to save them. They had never said prayers to God because such horrific things were happening, how did they even know he existed or was helping them?

Chapter 11: How and why does Kat’s death impact Paul so greatly? What larger ideas does Kat’s death help the reader better understand about war?

Kat’s Death

The death of Kat impacted Paul so greatly because they were the last two men to survive everything they had been through together. Kat was one of Paul’s only remaining friends, so “When Kat is taken away [he] will not have one friend left”(Remarque 288). Kat was always there for Paul; when Paul was a young recruit, he looked out for him and gave him extra food so Paul could not bear to see his close friend go too easily. In a way, dying seems to be an upgrade rather than living during the war because now Paul has no one and he feels he doesn’t have anything to live for in his life.

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