All Quiet on the Western Front
All Quiet on the Western Front Sacrifice Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
I look at the portraits once more; they are clearly not rich people. I might send them money anonymously if I earn anything later on. I seize upon that, it is at least something to hold onto. This dead man is bound up with my life, therefore I must do everything, promise everything in order to save myself. (9.151)
After nearly going mad staring at a man he has killed with his own hands, Paul regains a sense of composure when he vows to spend the rest of his life making money for the dead man's family. The idea of sacrificing the rest of his life for such a cause brings him peace. This idea of sacrifice is very different from the idea of sacrificing one's life for one's country. In this case, Paul hopes to help bring happiness to his supposed enemy's family.
"How far does the train go?" I ask.
"Albert," I say, "we stick together; you see." (10.113-115)
If Paul were to remain on the train, chances are he'd be able to get farther away from the front and closer to home. But he'd rather be with his good friend. He's pretty awesome. The friendships born on the front and among the soldiers are really amazing.
"But what I like to know," says Albert, "is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No. […] Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No." (9.31-33)
Note that the author has his characters capitalize "No" – like the world is almost holy. The war is painted as a series of catastrophic events, with the focus on many immaterial elements. It's not an accident that, in this same set of discussions, the men talk about whether they go to the bathroom in the same way the Kaiser does: there are common, everyday tasks in which one has no choice but to yield to (like urinating), and there are "higher" tasks in which one does have a choice: saying No to war, for example.