What does Paul Baümer think of the enemy in All Quiet on the Western Front?  How do these thoughts evolve?

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teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul Baumer thinks that the enemy is human.  Throughout the novel, Paul comments on the devastating effects of war and its ability to make soldiers dehumanize the enemy.  He implies that soldiers are simply objects on the field, and eventually the soldiers must see them this way in order to cope with the overwhelming number of dead and mutilated bodies that they see on the battlefield.  Paul does try to maintain his sense of humanity as evidenced in the scene in which Paul stabs a French soldier who has fallen into a shell hole with him.  Paul says that if only the soldier would have considered him a man instead of a threat then he would not have had to kill him.  Afterwards, Paul's guilt is great and he tries to save the man; when Paul sees that he is indeed dying, he tries to comfort him by giving him water.  When the soldier dies, Paul says that he will send a letter to his wife.  So Paul tries to see the enemy as human rather than to see the enemy as objectified non-human beings.

rickyr14's profile pic

rickyr14 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

are there any more reasons why Paul starts to see the enemy as human other than the stabbing of the Frenchman and the encounters with the Russian prisoners?


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