"We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war."
Summary by Spencer Pava and David Nerrow
Life is just getting harder for the six soldiers on the western front of Europe. The conditions , seem to be getting worse and worse. The lice, has became a one of the major problems for the soldiers. Tjaden who was sick of killing the lice one by one, decides to scrape them off his skin into a boot-polish tin. Then, he kills them by heating the tin with a hot flame. Strange way to do things, right?
Well, it gets stranger. Haie (member of the second company) lice has red crosses on them, with that he claims that he got them from a hospital where they attended the surgeon general. Himmelstoss, a non commissioned training officer, has arrived to camp. Himmelstoss the tormentor himself somehow thinks that he is “better” than everyone else. Himmelstoss, as the superior officer, threatens to court-martial Tjaden and leaves. The men laugh, though Kat says Tjaden may get five days in jail.
Muller begins asking everyone what they would do if the war ended suddenly. They begin to talk, and then Kropp comes to the realization that he thinks the war will not end. Kat begins to mention his wife and his children, going back home to his old days, and getting back to life as usual. Then the younger, more immature men, begin to talk about there plans of getting drunk and women.
Hai talks about how he would join the noncommissioned army, as an officer, due to the fact that he hated his old job as a peat digger. A peat is a type of partially decayed vegatable, that is extremely gruesome to dig up. Tjaden, promises that he would concentrate on revenge on Himmelstoss, meaning that he would return to his farm.
Teddy & Quincy
All men are equal in chapter five of All Quiet on the Western Front. Muller, wondering what it would be like in peacetime, asks all the soldiers what they would do if the war ended. The soldiers all come from different backgrounds, but for once had been unified into one suffering, miserable group. His despair, even mocking, of the idea they will return home is why their generation of men is often called “the lost generation.” They left for the war as young men, but those that survive the war won't have anything to come back to. The older men have families and jobs from before the war, but Paul and his generation can't imagine anything except being soldiers. Haie is an excellent example of this. In a discussion about what they would do when the war is over, he surprises the whole company by saying he'd remain in the military.“If I were a non-com. I'd stay with the Prussians and serve out my time.” To him, being a soldier is not that bad in peacetime. All the others seemed to forget that Haie is poor compared to them. Their economic statuses differed greatly, but in the trenches they were all the same. This shows a central theme of equality- -that no matter how rich or poor, you'll all die to a bullet. However, war can also change people. An example of this comes from Himmelstoss: when he is brought up to the front lines, he, as usual, treated the other soldiers as inferior. When he attempted to do this on the front lines, he is met with disrespect and impatience, even from a superior officer who is supposedly enforcing discipline. The front lines are not a parade ground. Himmelstoss learns that the hard way from his superiors. He was corrupted by the power of being a Non-Commissioned Officer, and because of that mistreated others. Though a humble postman when in times of peace, Himmelstoss put on a uniform and became a terrible bully.
While Himmelstoss' bullying was effective on the training ground, it had no effect on Tjaden and the others on the front line. What is being ordered around by an overzealous postman compared to watching your friends get blown to bits by artillery shelling? When Himmelstoss tried to order Tjaden around, he was unresponsive. In fact, he was more than unresponsive and, fed up with the constant bullying, insulted Himmelstoss.“You take a run and jump on yourself, Himmelstoss.” He did this fully knowing that Himmelstoss would report him, but he didn't care. As he put it,“Five days clink are five days rest.”Before he entered the front line he would never dare to disobey his superior, but the horrors of war gave him a brand new perspective.
Later in the book, when Paul tried to steal the goose from the shed, his inexperience and youth became clear. He tried to snap the necks of both geese before they could raise any sort of alarm, but failed and ends up facing a guard dog. Though he got the goose in the end, it was certainly not a clean job. Afterwards, Paul returns to Kat and they roast the goose in a hidden hut. There, they share the best thing that came out of the war: comradeship. “We don't talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have.”They bond over their shared trials, their shared hardships while war brought them closer than anything else could.