What are the reasons, both stated and tacit, that Paul swears falsely to Kemmerick's mother in Chapter 7 of All Quiet on the Western Front?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 7, Paul decides to lie to Kemmerick's mother because he does not think that she needs to suffer through the truth.  Paul reasons that Kemmerick is dead anyway and his mother's knowing the hard details of the truth will do nothing to bring him back.  She, however, does not believe that Paul is telling her the truth and tries to force Paul to answer.  Paul makes up his mind to absolutely refuse to give her the truth.  She asks him to swear, and Paul has no trouble swearing because by this point he has lost all faith in any higher powers.  He sees little good in the world, so swearing means nothing to him.  The scene also implies Paul's views on morality after having gone to war.  Paul has seen so many people die in horrible ways, and he now understands that these deaths occur at the blind hand of someone who is in charge of military groups and themselves know nothing of the battlefield.  Swearing to some absent, intangible power means nothing to Paul in comparison to what he sees everyday.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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