All Quiet on the Western Front

"Dangerous Moments" Chapter 11

what causes "dangerous moments" in chapter 11?

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It is no longer winter but now spring, though Paul and the soldiers, worn down, have stopped counting the weeks. 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.