All Quiet on the Western Front Questions and Answers
by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front book cover
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According to the text in All Quiet on the Western Front, how does war empower petty, power-hungry men?

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One of the abiding themes of All Quiet on the Western Front is that war corrupts. It can make people do all kinds of terrible things that they'd otherwise never do. More to the point, war can elevate the constitutionally mediocre and second-rate, giving them a level of power and control over others which they simply do not deserve and to which they are singularly unsuited.

Put some people in a uniform and they start to act like Genghis Khan. Take Corporal Himmelstoss, for example. He may be just a lowly NCO, but his seniority over the men in his platoon gives him the right—or so he believes—to treat Paul and his comrades like dirt. It would appear that Himmelstoss has major issues concerning his short stature. He's the classic example of "little man syndrome," desperately trying to make up for his lack of height by bullying other people and ordering them around.

Himmelstoss's height issues are related to the point made earlier about war's never-ending capacity to promote second-raters...

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