All Quiet on the Western Front Questions and Answers
by Erich Maria Remarque

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In All Quiet on the Western Front, what symbolism does the earth hold for the soldier?

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The men in All Quiet on the Western Front are in the middle of a deadly and destructive war. War during this time period was quite literally in the earth itself, and therefore, the earth was highly symbolic and meaningful to them. The trenches were dug by the soldiers to offer shelter and protection, which made the ground around them both a protective barrier and a home of sorts.

In this situation, the earth—while dirty and mucky (often times described with pools of water, causing the men to contract gangrene and other illnesses)—was a place of comfort and shelter for them. They would hide behind the ramparts they had built up out of dirt in the event of a bomb blast and would use the trenches as a place to hide and sleep at all times. For them, the earth was safety and security.

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The earth takes on a maternal aspect for the young soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front . They take shelter in trenches dug from the earth, for instance. Paul even makes a chant to the earth, showing his...

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