All Quiet on the Western Front

what does iron youth mean

what pressures do the boys face

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"Iron youth" is what their teacher Kantorek calls boys who fight in the war. Iron would define these boys as tough and hardened. This moniker is, of course, ironic because there is nothing "iron" about these boys. They bleed, they cry and they die. As Paul watches death creep over Kemmerich, Paul reflects on how ironic this label actually is.