For many soldiers mentioned in the novel, a particularly difficult experience to bear was being forced to stay in the dugouts. Often soldiers experienced bouts of paranoia while in the dugouts because they suffered from shell shock and claustrophobia. The men had to stay in the dugouts for their own safety; however, they were well aware that just above ground, a killing field awaited them. These terrors combined with lack of sleep, little food, and unsanitary conditions made the dugouts incredibly hard to bear.
As consolation, the soldiers often relied on each other to get them through the hardships they were forced to endure. At the beginning of the novel, Paul says that the only good thing to come out of the war is the sense of comradeship that blossomed among the soldiers. After Paul returns from leave and is sent on patrol, it is the voice of his fellow soldiers that eases him out of the paralyzing fear of being on the front again.