Paul Baumer's Struggle In All Quiet On The Western Front

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Paul Baumer is the main protagonist and narrator of the German war novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Throughout the story, Paul experiences the horrors of World War I, including the many gruesome deaths of his fellow German soldiers. These horrors threaten the humanity that Paul struggles to maintain. Certain events of All Quiet on the Western Front show Paul’s struggle, such as his experience with Russian prisoners, the battle in which he threw grenades at the French, and the quarrel between him and a French soldier who falls into his shell hole. In addition to showing Paul’s struggles, these events prove that the war has not taken his humane personality. Despite the destruction, chaos, and death that surround Paul, he successfully sustains his humanity throughout the novel. …show more content…

Unlike many of the German soldiers, Paul hesitates to throw a grenade at an oncoming French soldier whom he makes eye contact with. Paul describes this incident by saying, “I raise my hand, but I cannot throw into those strange eyes…. then the head rises up, a hand, a movement, and my hand-grenade flies through the air and into him.” (113) Paul is unable to immediately throw the grenade because of the eye contact he makes with the French soldier. When making eye contact, Paul sees that the so soldier is human. As a result, Paul’s humane nature takes over his instincts for a brief time. He only throws the grenade when he sees that the soldier is raising his head to presumably fire at the Germans. It is possible that Paul threw the grenade only to protect himself and his friends. Paul’s reluctance to kill an enemy soldier, and his willingness to protect his life and the lives of his friends prove that he still has a sense of

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