All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 7 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a story about WWI written by Erich Maria Remarque. In this lesson, we will take a look at Chapter 7 of the novel.

The Boys Take a Break

In the beginning of Chapter 7, the men are taken off the front line. As Paul looks around, he sees the men laughing and acting silly, and he reflects on the fact that they simply do not think about what they have experienced. He says to himself: ''I soon found out this much:--terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks;--but it kills, if a man thinks about it.'' In other words, all the death and misery they have seen is okay, as long as they do not sit quietly and think about it. Paul also accepts that since there is nothing they can do about the dead soldiers, they may as well eat well and sleep.

When Paul and Kropp are walking along the street, they come across a poster with an attractive actress on it. They look at her picture and comment on how good she looks. Paul reflects: ''The girl on the poster is a wonder to us...happiness, beauty, joy. That is peace-time, that is as it should be....'' Paul and his companion look at the man who is in the poster with the attractive actress and they tear him out of the poster. Since they can't make themselves look as nice as the man, they decide to get deloused and try to get some new socks. Later, Paul and his company run into a group of French women who are bathing in the river. The boys sneak away and meet the girls in the evening. Paul is intimate with one of the women and reflects on how his time with her makes everything slip away.

Paul gets a leave-pass for 17 days and is told that when he returns, he does not have to go back to the front line right away, but instead he will go for training first. As Paul rides the train back to his hometown, he reflects on the scenery. He watches the trees, the sun, and the houses. He is captivated by everything he sees. His emotions intensify as he gets closer to home. Taking in everything around him, he says to himself: ''It affects me as though it is my mother.''

A Dutch copy of the novel.

Paul Goes Home

When he arrives home, his sister greets him and he feels overwhelmed by emotions again. After his sister says: ''Mother, mother, Paul is here,'' he tries to fight his tears, but they come anyway. His mother is sick in bed and asks if he is wounded, and he says he is not. Paul feels strange being back home, and even after he mutters to himself that he is home, he notices that the feeling of strangeness remains. He gives his mother some cheese, bread, rice, butter and livered sausage. When his mother asks how bad the war is, he knows she will never understand, so he replies that it isn't that bad.

His father wants Paul to tell him about his war experiences, but he realizes that he cannot speak of the things he has experienced because if he does, it will all become very clear in his mind and it will be too emotional for him. Paul thinks to himself that if he speaks of he things he has seen, it will ''become gigantic.'' He notices that some people ask questions, but others are so proud that they don't. Paul envies their lives but also despises that they do not understand his struggles

While Paul is in his old bedroom he sees his bookshelf, and thinks about how much he used to enjoy reading. He wants to read his old books and reconnect with the parts of his life that mean something to him. He flips through the books realizing that they are just words that do not reach him. After flipping through dozens of books, he puts them back on the shelf telling himself ''nevermore.'' This scene reflects the fact that Paul realizes he will never be the same as he used to be. The books, his old life, the people in town, they just don't connect with him the way they used to.

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