Chapter 8 Notes from All Quiet on the Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 8

Paul returns to the training camp on the moors where he first got his training at the hands of Himmelstoss. He knows very few people there anymore. Training is boring and nothing new to Paul. He instead devotes his attention to the beauty of the Nature around him. Sometimes he gets so wrapped up that he risks missing commands. Next to the camp is a Russian prison. Often prisoners come across the wire to Paul's camp to pick through the garbage for what little food they might find. Paul thinks that they don't look much different than his own German farmers, with honest faces of farmers and peasants. They are sick and starving, and beg the Germans for food. Sometimes they trade boots or carvings for food. They are tired and listless, although Paul is told that at first, they were lively and often fought amongst themselves. Paul watches them and understands them; they are only his enemy because someone said so. In reality, they are not that different from him. He thinks that his own officers are more of a true enemy than the Russians. He gives them each half a cigarette, and then leaves them be.

Topic Tracking: Comrades 9
Topic Tracking: Isolation 7

Towards the end of his training, his father and sister come to visit him. His mother is now in the hospital, waiting for an operation for her cancer. His father is very worried that he will not have the money to pay for the operation. Paul envisions him working late, slaving away in order to pay the expensive bills. He tells his father some army jokes to cheer him up. He walks them to the train station, and they give him some jam and potato-cakes that his mother made. He goes back to camp, but cannot eat the food. He considers giving it all away to the Russians, but thinks of the pain his mother was in when she made it, and gives the Russians just two cakes.

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