Notes on All Quiet on the Western Front Themes

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All Quiet on the Western Front Topic Tracking: Innocence Lost

Chapters 1-2

Innocence Lost 1: Humorously, Paul points out that the war has taken their modesty. He laughs when he thinks of how shocked their families would be to see the way they act now.

Innocence Lost 2: When Paul says "old folk," it is a statement of how war destroys a boy's innocence in such a way that there is no turning bad. Like aging, they have been changed forever.

Innocence Lost 3: The end of their innocence begins in training, where the corporal beats it out of them. Even that, however, is not the true end of their innocence. It is just the beginning, because the war at the front destroys even more.

Chapters 3-4

Innocence Lost 4: Here Paul witnesses the destruction of an innocent person, the new recruit. The episode of the boy soiling his underwear shows that he is too innocent for the front, and then he is critically hurt before he can learn and adapt.

Chapters 5-6

Innocence Lost 5: Again, with this quote, Paul comes back to the idea of the permanent damage that has been done to his soul. He will never get his innocence back, no matter what he does.

Innocence Lost 6: Happiness and satisfaction come from stolen food and survival. At times like this, Paul thinks of the things he misses from home and wonders if he will ever be able to love them again. On some level he is sad that he gains so much pleasure from food and rest, that he has been stripped so bare.

Chapters 7-8

Innocence Lost 7: When Paul and Kropp look at the picture, they see a girl they can only dream of. The man in the picture makes them angry because they cannot compete with him. They are dirty and damaged while he is clean. They rip him away so they can love the girl without being reminded of how far gone they are.

Innocence Lost 8: Paul's misery over the encounter with the girl is because nothing, not even passion, can pull him away from the front. Later, when the girl doesn't care that he is leaving, the lack of innocence in their relationship bothers him even more.

Innocence Lost 9: The war has placed a wall not just between Paul and his past, but between him and his family as well as those who have not had their innocence taken.

Innocence Lost 10: Although he is trying to be kind, Paul's lie to Kemmerich's mother signifies the ultimate act of lost innocence. He swears on all that is important, but there is literally nothing important left to him. He is empty inside.

Chapters 9-10

Innocence Lost 11: Here, Paul displays another example of his belief that he is no longer worthy of good things. He is dirty and doesn't want to get in the bed, because to him the bed is innocent, while he is not. In the same way, the fact that the nurse is young and pretty makes him unable to ask her for help urinating, because to him, she is an innocent.

Innocence Lost 12: Here Paul thinks about himself and everyone else whose innocence has been destroyed. What is most terrible is that it was done on someone's orders, and not for any good reason of the people involved.

Innocence Lost 13: The importance of Lewandowski's desire, regardless of the fact that it meant having sex in front of everyone, shows that modesty and innocence are not concerns to them, even in the hospital.

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