In chapter 10,why do the men not get trouble when they do not act with proper decorum in the hospital?All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After an assignment to guard a village in which Paul and his fellow soldiers find food and a few other comforts, they are ordered a fortnight later to evacuate a village.  However, as they begin to leave, the other village where they have been comfortable, they are hit.  Albert Kropp and Paul are hit by a shell, but they crawl to a dressing station where they are treated and then put on a train. On the train to the hospital, Paul is at first reluctant to lie on such clean sheets, but the sister insists. 

Having arrived at the hospital, Paul and Albert do not want to hear the recital of evening prayers from the nuns; so, they shout for them to be quiet, and Paul throws a botte.  The nuns are disconcerted, explaining that they have left the door open for them to hear, but Albert and Paul yell, "Shut the door!"

The next day a hospital inspector appears to investigate the row the men have caused.  When he asks who has thrown the bottle, a strange man who "talks like a book" admits to the act.  After this man admits to throwing the bottle, the inspector departs; curious, Paul and Albert ask his name and why he has said that he did the act.  He replies that he has a shooting license.  Paul understands,

Whoever has a shooting license can do just whatever he pleases.

The soldier, Josef Hamacher explains that he has been hit in the head and presented with a certificate that declares that periodically he is not responsible for his actions.

Ever since then I've had a grand time.  No one dares to annoy me.  And nobody does anything to me."

Clearly, Hamacher exploits his condition.  Because hearing the bottle break while the sisters were praying amuses him, he makes his statement that will excuse them all from any misbehavior.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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