In this section of the book, Paul finally understands what the war is about
and why he is there. But he learned this grim reality after a traumatizing event. He begins
to see the devastation and agony the war brings accompanied with its empty heart.
After being reassigned to a flank that is brought in whenever the battle
plans go wrong, Paul prepares for battle. But he is reassured knowing his faithful
comrades, Kat and Albert, are at his side. But Kat and Albert cant assist him with his
mind struggle for the company of his mother. While conversing with Kat and Albert,
Pauls hunger can be contained no longer and he pulls out his mothers potato-cakes. Paul
pauses for a minute and pictures his mother in front of a hot stove with a broken heart.
Pauls thought of this brings him to tears, but he must push this to the depths of his heart
in preparation for the arrival of the Kaiser.
The soldiers spirits are lifted after being handed new equipment that
shunned their old ones. Paul and his comrades begin to converse of the war and the
Kaisers arrival which erupts into a debate of who is the enemy and who is the good guy.
They regard that both sides are defending their homes and their fatherland so it stands to
reason of who is committing wrong doing. This debate then strikes up an argument of
how the war could have been avoided, but Tjaden clears the air with the view that the war
will bear peace for future generations.
Following the inspection of camp by the Kaiser, the soldiers become
enraged after finding out that the new equipment was only a front for the Kaisers
inspection. Paul feels safety after hearing he and his flank will be going to Russia because
of rumors going around camp, but he discovers that it was actually a rumor. He will just
be going through the forest, up the line once again. In the forest is where Paul sees the
horror and carnage of the war. He sees large craters as if the earth was hit with a meteor
and his eyes were set upon those who were standing by, which were now in the trees
dangling lifeless. He finds a man with no arms, naked, in a puddle of blood and is told that
he died slow due to the scratched leaves alongside his feet. It is truly a devastating sight
and Paul is fearful to become one of the departed.
Later, tension builds and volunteers are requested to lead a mission into
enemy territory to uncover the enemies plans of attack. When Pauls friends volunteer, he
feels connected to them spiritually and sees it fit to volunteer alongside them. The group
creates the plan of, under the cover of darkness, creeping under the barbwire and slither
close to enemy lines. Paul goes separately and huddles into a shell-hole awaiting for the
machine gun fire to cease. But just before he stands, the bombs begin to find the ground
and burst alongside Paul. In fear, he stays in the shell-hole and ducks the machine gun fire.
As Paul, tries to keep calm and not be fearful of the shell blasts, he pulls
out his dagger. He awaits for someone to fall into the shell hole looking for shelter and
security. But Paul waits for them, ready to strike out at whatever. And with a moment of
silence, Paul makes an attempt to escape from the shell-hole, but just slides back down.
Exhausted and fearful, Paul is startled when a man falls upon him unknowingly.
In panic and instinct, Pauls knife lunges at the unknown and catches him in
the stomach. Paul is immediately frightened because this was his first kill with his hands.
Yes, he may have shot his revolver and killed someone in the distance, but it is a different
episode when you see the eyes of the man that you have just killed. Due to the continuous
shell blasts and artillery barrage, Paul comprehended that he would be spending an amount
Paul rolls the man off his stomach to see whom it was that fell victim to his
dagger. Paul gazes into the mans eyes which were occupied with utter terror and
recognizes that this man was not an enemy, but a hand puppet of war. So Paul begins to
administer aid to him by comforting him and easing his thirst. But Paul still feels guilty for
his actions and begins to see that the man had done nothing wrong, but defend his country.
Paul spends the next several hours with the man and continues to tend to
him, but it is hard because of the mans groaning and gurgling of blood. Paul knows that if
the man makes an attempt to call out for help, Paul will have to stab him directly in the
throat. But Paul does not want to think of that and commences talking to the soldier over
the shell blasts. As Paul continues to speak to the man, he catches a glimpse of the mans
eyes and is sickened that he is on the brink of death, but heading there slowly and Paul
wishes that he had brought his revolver to take him out of his misery. But the only weapon
Paul has is his blade and Paul cannot thrust at the man once again.
Paul then has nothing to worry about because the man passes away in the
afternoon and Paul wishes that the body would disappear as the mans life did. Paul cant
do much in the time after, but contemplate of who the man was, of who his wife was, and
what their children will feel when they get word of his death. Paul cannot stand the
curiosity of finding out who the man was, so Paul grabbed the mans wallet and discovers
the mans name, Gerald Duval. Pauls heart is then conquered with guilt when he sees a
picture of a beautiful women and pretty little girl, which were the mans wife and
daughter. Pauls pain begins to bruise him even more at the thought that the wife and
daughter will be on their own and the daughter will not have a father. So Paul vows to
himself and the lifeless body of Gerald Duval that he will send money anonymously to
assist them. To this Paul also vows that if he lives through the war, that he will fight until
his last breath to stop war and its travesties.
Paul then discovers to complete these vows he first must escape from the
shell-hole so he awaits for the accurate time to run. That time comes when a shell blast
lights the way back to his side where he is met half way by Kat and Albert with assistance.
Now in safety, Pauls mind is invaded by thoughts of Geralds eyes so he tells Kat and
Albert to seek absolution and support. To which Kat and Albert respond that this was
meant to be, that there was no other way because if Paul hadnt striked at him, he would
have striked first. And Pauls mind is eased after comprehended the comment, After all,