All Quiet on the Western Front
Patriotism Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
We had fancied our task would be different, only to find we were to be trained for heroism as though we were circus-ponies. (2.5)
What does Paul mean by "circus-ponies"? We think he might be referring to the showy, performance nature of the circus. Their training was as much about the show of soldierly behavior as it was about teaching them actual tools and tips.
But we are swept forward again, powerless, madly savage and raging; we will kill, for they are still our mortal enemies; their rifles and bombs are aimed against us, and if we don't destroy them, they will destroy us. (6.79)
What is an "enemy"? In the context of this novel, the war makes the soldiers less human. If they ponder too long on the connections they feel to their enemies, they will get killed. In order to preserve their lives, they must become a little less human.
But we do not forget. It's all rot that they put in the war-news about the good humour of the troops, how they are arranging dances almost before they are out of the front-line. We don't act like that because we are in a good humour: we are in a good humour because otherwise we should go to pieces. If it were not so we could not hold out much longer; our humour becomes more bitter every month. (7.9)
Why do you think our narrator writes this account? We get the feeling he does so in order to prevent his own self from falling to pieces. He becomes a truth-teller, a journalist of sorts, documenting the real story of trench life. What would happen if the war-news depicted an accurate account of the war? Who exactly does not want the truth to come out?