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The men simply want to stay alive. They become "wild beasts" in the sense that they live on instinct, the instinct to survive. They are not fighting for the fatherland or for anyone at home. They become animals because they want to live. The men are still scared in the trenches. They acknowledge that they have more in common with their enemy than with the people they know at home. They know that their enemy is fighting for the same thing they are.