All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front

Chapters 11-12

What is so tormenting for the soldiers in the summer of 1918? Why do you think this is driving them crazy?

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

From the text:

The summer of 1918 is the most bloody and the most terrible. The days stand like angels in blue and gold, incomprehensible, above the ring of annihilation. Every man here knows that we are losing the war. Not much is said about it, we are falling back, we will not be able to attack again after this big offensive, we have no more men and no more ammunition.

Still the campaign goes on--the dying goes on --"--"

Summer of 1918--Never has life in its niggardliness seemed to us so desirable as now;--the red poppies in the meadows round our billets, the smooth beetles on the blades of grass, the warm evenings in the cool, dim rooms, the black mysterious trees of the twilight, the stars and the flowing waters, dreams and long sleep - O Life, life, life!

Summer of 1918--Never was so much silently suffered as in the moment when we depart once again for the front-line. Wild, tormenting rumours of an armistice and peace are in the air, they lay hold on our hearts and make the return to the front harder than ever.

Summer of 1918--Never was life in the line more bitter and more full of horror than in the hours of the bombardment, when the blanched faces lie in the dirt and the hands clutch at the one thought: No! No! Not now! Not now at the last moment!

Summer of 1918--Breath of hope that sweeps over the scorched fields, raging fever of impatience, of disappointment, of the most agonising terror of death, insensate question: Why? Why do they make an end? And why do these rumours of an end fly about?

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

The men have lost their original distinctions and have blended in with each other. Paul believes they have done this as a means of self-preservation--from insanity, desertion, and death. They remain hardened and closed off, but occasionally a dangerous "flame of grievous and terrible yearning flares up" and prove to the men that their behavior is "artificial."

Paul tells a story about Detering. Returning from the front in the morning, the men saw a cherry tree. That night, Detering disappeared and came back with some of the cherry branches. In the middle of the night, Paul heard Detering packing. Detering said he had a cherry orchard at home, and two mornings later, he was gone. A week later the military police caught him, and the men have heard nothing of him since.

Paul describes how Müller was shot point-blank in the stomach. Before he died, Müller gave Paul his boots--originally Kemmerich's. Paul has promised to give them to Tjaden next. The men are starving, and so much "substitute stuff" has been mixed in with their food that they are constantly ill. Their depleted weaponry is falling apart. The men regale each other with stories of injustice in the army. Tanks have become brutal machines of war. Paul sees no possibilities for the men other than "Trenches, hospitals, the common grave."

During an attack, the company's commander and Leer die. The summer of 1918 further devastates the Germans, who are aware they are losing the war. Paul reflects repeatedly on the summer's rumors of an armistice. The opposition's sheer numbers, not its quality of soldiers, has crushed the Germans. Rain has soaked the men in the past weeks; now they deal with the oppressive heat. Kat is heavily wounded in the leg one day, and Paul carries him back to the dressing station. On the way, they stop for a drink and a cigarette and promise to stay in touch after Kat is sent away for his injury. Paul delivers Kat back, but he has died on the way--part of the shell hit his head, as well.