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I think the symbols here have to do with the alienation war brings by forcing a very violent rapid maturity on boys like Paul. Paul feels alienated. Paul finds that people in his village do not know the truth. The men in the pub give advice to Paul as if the war was a game and the German's were winning. Paul visits his old classroom again and witnesses his same teacher spout the same garbage about the heroism of war. Although Paul is glad to see his family, he finds little connection. His comrades in arms are his family now. Paul was a boy when he left and a man when he returned. Paul even feels that he is old for he has seen much too much for his age.