In All Quiet on the Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque, there is a common theme of ups and downs. As time progresses on the front lines and off, characters emotions alter. The soldiers struggle with keeping their humanity no matter the circumstances. The main character, Paul Baumer is practically stripped of his humanity by feeling like a foreigner in normal society and accepting violence, still he has sparks of humane behavior in the darkest of times.The first signs of Paul’s loss of humanity are when he goes on leave back to his hometown. Once back at the house where he grew up he describes trying to put on normal clothing: “I feel awkward. The suit is rather tight and short, I have grown in the army. Collar and ties give me some …show more content… The clothing given does not feel natural to him and is a misfit, similar to him in normal society. In the suit, he can only feel the bare clothing underneath as if the outer layer has been stripped away, similar to his humanity. The physical growth of the army that causes him to be too large for his clothing also comes with the mental and emotional growth that causes him to be a foreigner from the life away from the front lines. As Paul spends more time on leave, he realizes that he does not belong in the real world. He wishes that he had never left: “I imagined leave would be different from this. Indeed, it was different a year ago. It is I of course that have changed in the interval. <…> But now I see that I have been crushed without knowing it.
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I find I do not belong here …show more content… When Paul is stationed at the Russian prisoner camp he seems to have moments of a will to live and show sympathy. One night he interacts with a few soldiers: “I take out my cigarettes, break one in half and give them to the Russians. <…> They comfort me; it looks as though there were little windows in dark village cottages saying that behind them are rooms full of peace” (194). To most Germans, the Russians are animals that deserve no mercy. Still, to Paul they are regular humans that are suffering. He feels sympathy for them and shares a cigarette with them that has been a symbol through the entire book for social interaction. Paul connects with them which gives him comfort and shows that he has restored some humanity in his heart even in the darkest of times. After spending some time at the Russian prisoner camp, Paul ends up back at the front lines of warfare. After being stuck in No Man’s Land, he finds shelter in a hole but finds other company with him. His instinct is to stab the intruder but later finds out it was a mistake once he watches the enemy soldier die away slowly and painfully. Paul reflects on the moment: “But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. <…> Now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. <…> Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are