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All Quiet on the Western Front

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Paul Baumer is the protagonist in All Quiet on the Western Front written by Erich Maria Remarque. Paul changes his values throughout the novel as a result of having to adapt in order to survive. As Baumer struggles to survive the war, he transforms as shown by his thoughts, actions, and the conversations that he contributes in.

One way that Paul changes is that his patriotism towards his country about war decreases. Paul is sitting with his men around a fire picking off lice and comparing them before throwing them in the fire. Muller starts to ask others what they would do if and when the war is over. After dwelling on the topic for a while they realized the younger men do not know how to do anything but fight. They joined the war at such a young age that they did not get a chance to explore anything else. "'The war has ruined us for everything.'" At the beginning of the novel he is excited about defending his country and destroying the enemy, but after having interaction with soldiers from the opposing side he realizes that they are all the same. They are just soldiers fighting for their countries and eager to get home. Paul's experience in combat changes his thoughts of war. Because of this, he gains the ability to reflect on the events that happen. His own ideas of war changes when he first witnesses the ugly truth of war. Paul's first experience in combat reveals to him that everything he was taught as a young recruit are lies. This causes him to make his own conclusions and thoughts about the war. As the war goes on, Paul realizes more and more about the reality of the situation that he is in.

Paul loses his innocence and childhood during the war; as a result, he becomes a man. In chapter seven, there is a scene where Paul, Leer, Kropp, and Tjaden swims. Three French women walk on the river bank. Paul and the others make hand motions with a loaf of bread and spoke in broken French. They make plans to meet the girls later that night. "We call out to them that we would like to come; sometimes when the guards cannot see us...we assure them that we will bring some with us... and other tasty bits too." (Remarque 145) Through this trade, Paul uses the women for his urges. Before the war Paul would never sleep with woman that he just met. He would never give away his dignity especially for something like this, whether his testosterone levels were high or not.

The war takes control of Paul completely and he can no longer survive without it. Paul finds himself in his room and starts looking around at his possessions. He realizes that he misses reading and remembers the joy that once filled him as he used to sit down to read his "collected works". He tries to find inspiration from his books, however as he starts to skim through some of them, they don't appeal to him the way that they used to before the war. "I take one of the books...I put it away and take out another...words-- they do not reach me...nevermore." (Remarque 173) After experiencing the hardships that come with war, nothing seems to inspire him anymore. At the front, he is forced to think about war and nothing else. Now that he is back in his environment and he has nothing but time on his hands, he does not know what to do anymore. His life used to revolve around the war, but now that he is on break, he comes home with all this horrible knowledge and looks at life in a completely different way.

The longer Paul is involved in the war, the more it separates him from the life that he had before he enlisted. When the men return, he finds Kat, Albert, Tjaden, and Muller. He feels uncomfortable around them, but is unsure as to why. He gives his mother's jam and potato-cakes



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