Explore the various dimensions of being “lost” that Remarque presents in All Quiet on the Western Front and show how this motif helps us to understand the consequences of the First World War. Specifically, please identify three ways in which Remarque depicts Paul and his comrades as “lost” and explain why each example illuminates an important effect of the war.

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From the beginning of his service in the military in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, the protagonist, Paul Baumer, feels lost and disconnected from his earlier life. In Chapter Two, he thinks of the poems and a play he used to write at home and says, "but that has become so unreal to me I cannot comprehend it anymore" (page 19). One form of being lost in the book is being lost in time and cut off from one's past. 

When Paul gets to the front, he feels continually lost. In Chapter 4, he falls asleep after putting stakes in the ground and, when he wakes up, he does not know where he is. He says, "Then waking suddenly with a start I do not know where I am" (page 60). He thinks at first, in his disorientation, that he is at a garden party after seeing the rockets in the air. This represents the idea that Paul and his fellow soldiers don't understand their role in a confusing, massive operation of which they are unimportant parts.

Later, when Paul visits his home in Chapter 7, he also feels lost. He says, "I am not myself there. There is a distance, a veil between us" (page 160). This sense of being lost represents Paul's disconnection from his civilian life and from normal life absent the war. Remarque's use of the motif of being lost shows how disconnected soldiers in World War I were from their past and from ordinary civilian life. However, they also feel lost as soldiers, as they have no sense of the purpose of the war and what their efforts really amount to. As a result, soldiers like Paul begin to understand the futility and purposelessness of the war.

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