All Quiet on the Western Front
How we cite our quotes:
It is strange to think that at home in the drawer of my writing table there lies the beginning of a play called "Saul" and a bundle of poems […] Our early life is cut off from the moment we came here, and that without our lifting a hand. We often try to look back on it and to find an explanation, but never quite succeed. (2.1)
Does Paul ever try to find an explanation for the way in which he has been cut off from his family, his home, and his youth?
O dark, musty platoon huts, with the iron bedsteads, the chequered bedding, the lockers and the stools! Even you can become the object of desire; out here you have a faint resemblance to home; your rooms, full of the smell of stale food, sleep, smoke, and clothes! (3.46)
Paul practically sings a song to the platoon huts. In the context of war, when most soldiers sleep in muddy trenches or out in the open, the prospect of a shelter with real beds is a little slice o' heaven. It's hard not to feel Paul's enthusiasm here, and he isn't the kind of guy to show emotion.
You can see what he is thinking. There is the mean little hut on the moors, the hard work on the heath from morning till night in the heat, the miserable pay, the dirty labourer's clothes. (5.37)
Haie daydreams about life as a non-commissioned officer during peacetime. The life of a peat-digger is nothing to be excited about (peat is like partially decayed vegetation). When we think about these soldiers, we imagine that they have warm and cozy lives waiting for them at home. However, this moment makes us realize that that may not be the case. Haie has to find other dreams to keep him going.