When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die.
~ Jean-Paul Sartre
Chapter Two Summary
Summary by Owen Gund and Wills Moskow
When looking back to Paul Bäumer's life a couple years ago, nobody would have ever guessed that a literate poet such as Paul would be where he is now, at war. In the first part of this chapter we learn about Paul's life prior to the war, he was a poet and a great writer. Now Paul has no time for poetry, it is useless, he feels empty and dull. He recalls that the war has taught him more life lessons than school ever could. Everything Paul used to be is gone, his life, his friends. All he really has to hold on to from his life before the war is his family.
Paul was originally patriotic and excited to go to war. Until he saw war for what it really was. He then realized that being involved in a war is the worst decision he had ever made. Paul reasons with himself; he and the other young men in his generation were cut off from life just as it had started. These men were starting to make lives for themselves; starting to find jobs, places to live, and most importantly a family.
As Kemmerich's condition gets worse and his death comes near, Muller decides he can make good use of Kemmerich's boots which will be taken by a hospital worker when Kemmerich passes away. But only if Muller doesn't do something about it. After all he has more right over them than some hospital orderly.
Paul looks back on his training. He remembers his officer who was assigned the training of Paul and other men in his platoon. The mans name was Corporal Himmelstoss. The man made paul and other mens lives miserable and until now Paul has held a grudge on this man. But with his past few months of experience in the trenches Paul is now thankful for the mans actions. What the man had done during training had toughened Paul, without it everything Paul had seen over the past months would've caused him to go insane.
Kemmerich realizes that where he lay may very well be where he will soon die. He is saddened that he never got to do any of the things he wanted for example he will never become a head forester like he had always dreamed of. Kemmerich knows that his leg is gone, and he tells Paul to give Muller his boots. The poor man starts crying and refuses to respond to Paul's attempts to cheer him. Paul goes to find a doctor who refuses to come. When Paul returns to the room he finds Kemmerich lying lifeless.
Analysis by Paul Michaud and Ben Kelly
Separation can not just happen by having people physically apart, but also a class or rank separation. Sometimes this class separation can be far worse than physical ape ration, as shown in this chapter. The distinction between certain classes, manager and worker, and the separation in the form of military ranks. This separation is represented by the difference in how each rank treats the others. Separation is what can doom a unit, or an army. The soldiers in “All Quiet on the Western Front” are treated poorly, but later on this incentives fight back at those who have oppressed them.
In Chapter Two of All Quiet On The Western Front, we begin to see the large divide between soldiers, their families, and the generals and leaders who run the war. Baümer, a relative veteran of the German Army, has seen firsthand this division. The time in the chapter when this theme is most present is when Baümer's friend Kemmerich dies of a thigh wound. Kemmerich had been previously mentioned as a friend of the soldiers, and they often reflected about how they wished he was with them.
“How should I know anything about it? I've amputated five legs today.”
[All Quiet on The Western Front, p.32]
One of the many points that the author is making by describing Kemmerich's death is about separation from authority. The generals and the leaders couldn't care less about his life and are fine with him dying. They give no second thought to his preservation. Remarque is trying to show us, the readers, that the generals and leaders have no idea of the horrors of the war they control. They are immune to the deaths of people like Kemmerich, simply because he is only one man. However, Remarque wants to convey how every man off fighting in The Great War has a family, friends, and others who care about him. Remarque wants us to know that men are not expendable, even though the generals want us to think that they are.
“Tjaden [...] pulled down his trousers holding the whip [...] and set to work. It was a wonderful picture: Himmelstoss on the ground; Haie bending over him with a fiendish grin, and his mouth open with bloodlust.”
[All Quiet on The Western Front, p. 49, Chapter 3]
Another theme we begin to see in Chapter Two is bottled-up anger. The soldiers in the German Army are being subjected to gas, mud, interminable marches, blood, gangrene, and abuse by older soldiers. They have little idea about the status of the war that is away from where they are. Most of them have many friends who were . First, the soldiers let out their anger in battle. However, the few moments of panic that were preceded by the absolute boredom and tinge of fear are not enough to let out all the residual stress of the trenches. The soldiers here need a victim o attack because of the way they are treated. They don't want to rebel, but they want to prove themselves as people, not just as tiny lead soldiers in a child's game. This will lessen their separation from the people who have higher titles. Even if conditions are not changed, feeling a sense of connection to the captains and generals and lieutenants giving the orders is essential. This will help the army to win.
It was English class time, I walked in and most people were nervous about what was to come in our next few weeks. The class knew that had said that we would be reading a book. The reason we were nervous is because we did not want to end up reading another complicated and difficult book. One could see the nervousness running around the room like a virus, some children biting their nails. in our next few weeks. The class knew that had said that we would be reading a book. The reason we were nervous is because we did not want to end up reading another complicated and difficult book. One could see the nervousness running around the room like a virus, children biting their nails. Anticipation was building and then, he told us the book we were reading. Our class was going to read *All Quiet on the Western Front.* It was a famous book, dubbed the “greatest war novel of all time.”
The first three chapters are based in the trenches in Germany on The Western Front, so far we have gotten to know many different characters and going through it has been exhilarating. I’ve raced through the beginning with passion and I have had a lot of trouble not reading ahead.The author has done a great job weaving in the characters and settings, the first three chapters have been a brilliant,epic piece of work. It shows the horrors of being right in the middle of war. Men were just happy that it wasn’t them that had died today.Just imagine being content with just barely being alive, and your friends dead? I know that I couldn't live like that, surely not for an extended period of time such as year or two.
That just about sums it up, the horror of war. Men content with living in horrible conditions, eating terrible food and in a constant battle for a pointless area of land. Knowing that it could be you, lying helplessly in a field, scares me out of my wits. I a man of only 18, could be crawling around after being shot, with no hope of surviving. For my class and I so far, this book has made me thought about what it would be like to be in a war. It might not be the most accurate, because this took place a long time ago.Even though the hippies go about it the wrong way, war needs to be stopped in someway,somehow,it's inhumane. That drive, the fear that one gets during battle, will never change.
It needs to be stopped whether it's three hundred years down the line or fifteen thousand.
It needs to end.