90 pages • 3 hours readErich Maria Remarque
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Chapter Summaries & Analyses
The men head back to the front, passing a schoolhouse along the way with coffins stacked against it. The men debate who the coffins are for, and this image foreshadows what’s to come—a long chapter that graphically portrays the horrors of trench warfare. While in the trenches, the men quickly lose their spirits because they estimate the extent of the weaponry the enemy is bringing in and because some of the men in the trench are wounded by shells that have misfired from their own side. Paul discusses luck and chance, which he explains as the cause for staying alive while war rages all around. While in the trenches, the men must be on the lookout for rats that steal their bread. Paul describes the war against the rats within the trench and the ways the men devise ridding themselves of the rodents.
A gas attack takes place at night, but what really concerns the men is all the movement behind the enemy lines. They are nervous and have growing anxiety at the accumulation of arms on the other side, which they can hear. Finally, a bombardment commences, and Paul describes some of the carnage, including a man who has been lucky to escape alive but now is shell-shocked.