All Quiet on the Western Front
How we cite our quotes:
Now the trees are green again. Our life alternates between billets and the front. We have almost grown accustomed to it; war is a cause of death like cancer and tuberculosis, like influenza and dysentery. The deaths are merely more frequent, more varied and terrible. (11.1)
What is the difference between war and cancer or tuberculosis or influenza? It seems to us that humans have more control over a war than they have over sickness.
Here, on the borders of death, life follows an amazingly simple course, it is limited to what is most necessary, all else lies buried in gloomy sleep; – in that lies our primitiveness and our survival. (11.6)
What is most necessary to the soldiers in this novel? Does Paul refer to death when he speaks of "gloomy sleep" here, or is he referring the dreams and memories that are snuffed out by the troubled sleep that the soldiers get every night? They do not live, they merely survive.
All other expressions lie in a winter sleep, life is simply one continual watch against the menace of death; – it has transformed us into unthinking animals in order to give us the weapon of instinct – it has reinforced us with dullness, so that we do not go to pieces before the horror, which would overwhelm us if we had clear, conscious thought. (11.6)
Do you perceive Paul and his compatriots to be "unthinking animals?" When is Paul writing this account? He must write it as a soldier, and, therefore, he is not an "unthinking animal," but a very reflective human, in our opinion.