In Chapter 12 of All Quiet on the Western Front, do you think Paul was, in fact, "almost glad the end had come?"

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that a very good case can be made to support the opinion that Paul was indeed "almost glad the end had come." In Chapter 12, he notes the fact that of the seven classmates with whom he had joined the German army, he is the only one left. The war has decimated his generation, and even for those, like himself, who seem to have survived, Paul holds little hope. Paul hears the talk "of peace and armistice," and believes that this time, it is most likely true. He speaks with relief of the almost inconceivable thought of going home, but his thoughts stop there. He yearns to be delivered, but he has "no aims." The war has ruined the lives of the young men of his generation. Paul says,

"if we go back we will be weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope. We will not be able to find our way any more."

Paul believes that there will be no place in the world for the surviving soldiers of his age. If he had been a little older, he would have had a chance to establish a life before the war, and would have something to return to; if he were a little younger, he would be able to begin life anew. The tragedy of Paul's generation is that they had been taken by the war just at the point at which they were establishing their identity. The war is all they know; there will be no place for them in a world at peace.

Paul's last thoughts as expressed before he dies is that he is "so alone, and so without hope." He feels that the emptiness and despair that is his life "will seek its own way out, heedless of the will" he may have to make things turn out otherwise (Chapter 12).

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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