In All Quiet on the Western Front, why does Paul refer to his generation as a "waste land"?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul refers to his generation as a "waste land" because they have been robbed of their youth by the war.  When Paul meets men of the older generation at the bar while he is on leave, they ask him questions about the front and discuss warfare as if it were a scene from an action story.  They tell Paul that he must go after the enemy and they congratulate him on his service.  Paul is disgusted by this view of the war because it is illusory and romantic.  Of the younger generation, Paul says that the war has not touched their lives in any real sense and remains a figment of the past.  But for those who are soldiers, Paul says that they no longer have any sense of hope or life--the war has taken away their innocence and they are now, therefore, a waste land.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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