by Parker Nagtegaal
War can tear people apart and turn them into something they aren’t. In the book All Quiet On The
Western Front all the characters go to fight on the front in chapter 6, this turns all of them in killing machines that only think about themselves and staying alive.
This makes perfect sense because in these life or death moments they face on the battlefield all the want is to make it out alive. “crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils”. When they see the horrors of the men and what they do to each other some go crazy and curl up in a corner like Himelstoss. He was scared of what he had seen and he was petrified with fear. In these horrific battle of loud bombs and charging into machine guns that are ready to mow down your whole army and all your comrades. This is pain I can only imagine that if I was put through I would take my own life having seen the terrors that they have. I would never be able to look at the word the same. These images would never leave my head.
In these fights it’s just non stop charging towards the enemy getting mowed down, retreating and shooting down the charge enemy then you charge and repeat the process. This makes the soldiers monsters more than men. They don’t care for people they just kill. “We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost.” This is the sad reality of the toll it takes on these men.
This chapter helped (or rather didn’t help because it was so horrifying) me to understand the terror that these me fight for. They don’t think about who (or what they are fighting for) they only think about keeping themselves alive.