Why does he believe that the generation after him will be strange to him and push him aside in All Quiet on the Western Front?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Near the end of the novel Paul says:

And men will not understand us — for the generation that grew up before us, though it has passed these years with us already had a home and a calling; now it will return to its old occupations, and the war will be forgotten — and the generation that has grown up after us will be strange to us and push us aside. We will be superfluous even to ourselves, we will grow older, a few will adapt themselves, some others will merely submit, and most will be bewildered, — the years will pass by and in the end we shall fall into ruin.

He correctly assumes that his generation will push aside the next generation the same way that his generation was pushed aside by the one preceding it.  Paul knows that he is of the "lost generation," one that only knows war and death, and those who survive will be empty and shallow beings, ruined and disconnected to their sons and daughters, to any generation to follow.  On critic calls the novel "the amalgamation of prayer and desperation, dream and chaos, wish and desolation.”

Even though it was published some 10 year after the war in 1929, All Quiet on the Western Front captures the voice of the lost generation.  Ironically, the next generation failed to heed its warnings, as it entered into an even deadlier and more destructive war, World War II, some 10 years later.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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