Chapter 8 Metcognition
My weekend

Chapter 8 Literary Analysis Paragraph

Literary Analysis

Of the effect of concentration camps


The art of war is simple. Find your enemy. Get at him as soon as possible. Strike him as hard as you can. And keep moving—Ulysses S. Grant


     In dark times, the punishment of war can be brutal to the human spirit.

In the novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Marie Remarque, Paul sees the devastation the concentration camps in have on people and their way of living. Even being around these camps seems to drag down the sense of hope and peace from anyone at all. Being a prisoner is, unsurprisingly, even worse. On his return from leave, Paul has to undergo training to ‘re-prepare’ himself to go to war; however, where his training takes place is next to a concentration camp full of dying and depressed Russians. He also must watch over these prisoners of war and further punish them for almost anything they do, but he feels pity for them: he gives them some cigarettes and a little food if they trade with him, but he is forced to see them in the barbaric conditions of living in dirty and unsafe land.

I know nothing of them except that they are prisoners; and that is exactly what troubles me. Their life is obscure and guiltless;—if I could know more of them, what their names are, how they live, what they are waiting for, what their burdens are, then my emotion would have an object and might become sympathy. But as it is I perceive behind them only the suffering of the creature, the awful melancholy of life and the pitilessness of men. A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.

Paul feels as if his enemies could one day become his friends; however, his orders are to punish these men because of the country that they fight for. He also cannot personalize with the prisoners, for if he does so: he feels he may grow close to them and develop sympathy for them. The prisoners, at the moment, all have nothing to live for either.  They barely have any possessions, if any at all, and are all skeletons of men; all sulking around, hardly clinging to life. Being put in situations like this can pull the spirit of anybody down to the depths of hell. The miserable life of war is one that will end lives, or severely alter the way they continue.