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Paul symbolizes an "everyman or "everyboy" from a small village in Germany who gets caught up in the patriotic fervour of war. He is really just like any boy entering into a man's world regardless of what nation he comes from. We grow with Paul and experience the horrors as well as the life changing moments of war through Paul. Paul is a sympathetic character without a lot of emotional baggage when we begin the book. Thus Paul becomes a symbol of innocence, naiveté and eventually the human condition in a very inhumane setting.