All Quiet on the Western Front

What happens to Paul in the shell-hole?

Chapter 9

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 A bombardment begins and he crawls into a water-filled hole. He pretends to be dead under the muddy water, and holds his knife in case someone comes. The Germans fire back and soon repel the enemy. As Paul hears footsteps around his hole, a body falls in. Paul strikes at the body, and the man convulses and becomes limp. When he gurgles, Paul viciously wants to quiet him by stabbing him and stuffing his mouth with earth, but he soon regains control. Paul wants to leave, but the machine-gunfire makes that impossible. He waits with the gurgling body.

By morning, Paul looks at the man in the hole with him. Paul tries to convince himself the man is dead, but the body moves slightly and opens its eyes at Paul in fear. Paul strokes the man's forehead and scoops up some muddy water for him to drink. Paul cuts the man's shirt with his knife and bandages him. By noon the man is still dying, and Paul is starving. This is the first time Paul has killed a man in hand-to-hand combat, and he suffers along with the dying man. Finally, he dies in the afternoon. Paul props him up and wonders about the man's wife. He thinks about fate; if Paul had crawled back to his trench correctly, the man would still be alive.