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In my essay I intend to show how the author makes these themes vivid to the reader.One way the author highlights the futility of war is through the use of key incidents.
His maturing personality gives him the insight to see past the facade of war and expose it for what it truly is.
Paul loses his innocence and childhood during the war; as a result, he becomes a man.
Later on, they meet Himmelstoss again at the front during an offensive where Paul finds him cowering in a shell hole pretending to be wounded, only to see him overcome with some kind of blind courage and join the next wave of troops charging forwards.
After the battle Himmelstoss is appointed company cook and the men see a change in him.
Paul's first engagement in combat reveals that everything he was taught as a young recruit are lies; consequently, he can now form his own conclusions.
Through the ongoing course of the war, Paul comes to grips with the reality of the situation.I find it ironic that the only reason that they have these extra rations is due to an army mistake as the army had provided for a company of one hundred and fifty men but only eighty had returned from the front alive.The first example of "waste of life" is the death of Paul's school friend Kemmerich.His naive ideas are severely challenged when he first witnesses the ugly truth of war."The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces"(13).When Paul and his companions encounter some French women, they exchange food for sexual intercourse."We unwrap our parcels and hand them over to the women.Muller is killed and Paul inherits the boots that Muller had, in turn received from Kemmerich, and Katczinsky was hit by shrapnel and died of his wounds. His death is described in a brief paragraph where the tense and viewpoint change from the present tense and through Paul's eyes to past tense and in third person.This change of tense and viewpoint shows the impersonal way in which soldiers are seen when they die.They are not enemies but each fight the idea of the other, the German versus the Russian or the German versus the Frenchman.By the last few chapters of the book all of Paul's comrades and old friends are being killed.