In All Quiet on the Western Front, how does the scene in the hospital concerning Lewandowski's wife's visit demonstrate the comradeship and intimacy of soldiers?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When soldiers are together for any length of time, there is a strong comaraderie that develops--one involving deep empathy. In Chapter Nine, Paul remarks that with his fellow soldiers he is 

...no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness--I belong to them and they to me, we all share the same fear and the same life, we are nearer than lovers....

Then, in Chapter Ten, after the men are wounded and sent to the hospital, Lewandowski, who is the oldest among them, expects a visit from his wife whom he has not seen for two years. However, because he has developed a fever, he cannot go out with her. Of course, he is disappointed as he has a strong desire to be intimate with her after such an absence and the other soldiers have told him of spots where he can share private moments with her. Now, however, he must remain in bed; so, the brotherhood of men,from whom there are no secrets promise Lewandowski that they will devise a way for him to share his physical love with his wife.

When Mrs. Lewandowski appears, she is apprehensive around all the men, but her husband quickly dispels her fears. Although she is embarrassed, the men "make pooh-poohing gestures, what does it matter!" since convention is made for other times. With a couple of men standing guard in the hallway in case a doctor or nurse should come along, the others arrange Lewandowski on his side and his wife disappears under the covers. The soldiers turn around and "make a great clatter" as they play cards noisily in order to drown out the sounds of the lovemaking. After a while, the "business is over."

We now feel ourselves like one big family, the woman is happy, and Lewandowski lies there sweating and beaming.

Both the husband and wife and the men have engaged in acts of love, although in a different form, and they feel gratified.

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