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This is addressed at different points in the novel. Earlier (ch 5) the boys reflect on having lots of sex, going back to the farm, stay with the Prussian army....Later in the novel Paul talks about not being the "iron youth" but rather the "lost youth". They will be experienced in the horrors of war but nothing in the practicalities of normal life. Their innocence and youth have been stripped away from them. By the end of the book Paul and the boys are just trying to survive. Of course, in the end, future plans are futile. One by one the boys get killed.