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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front - Part 5

Hi guys, finally back to do another chapter review. My exams have technically been over since Friday, but I just haven't been in the reviewing mood, what with fall-out from exam tiredness, registering for new courses next year and sorting out an interview for a job. But now I'm back, and I was wondering about what people thought about the little book discussion I did last entry. I mean, I enjoyed looking back at what affected my development as a reader, but thus far I haven't had any reaction to it, so I was wondering whether I should include more entries like that, or whether I should just stick to chapter reviews. Well, with that said and done, I just need to recap the last chapter, although considering that that was the reader's first experience of the front line, I don't think it needs all that much of a recap. To cut a long story, anything that could go wrong went wrong. 
And we start this chapter talking about lice. Well, that was an odd change of pace. We go from shells exploding everywhere you look to throwing lice into a boot polish lid/makeshift frying-pan. Weird. Anyway, while they flash-fry lice, they're contemplating the fact that Himmelstoss, the one nobody liked from earlier, is actually at the front now. Again, this might just be evidence that I have a vicious mindset, but I'm looking forward to this. 
But instead of elaborating on the Himmelstoss thing, we instead get a discussion about what they would do if peace were suddenly declared. The overall answer seems to be "find women and have some fun". Nice to know that they still appreciate those simple pleasures in life. And then oddly enough, the idea of continuing in the army come peace-time comes about. Now I realise that after the war there won't nearly be as much danger present, but I would have thought that staying in the army would be the last thing I'd consider doing. There are a few more answers considered, then Himmelstoss turns up. My god, I don't think this scene could be any more awkward or hostile if it possibly tried. Tjaden insults him, as he's been meaning to do for a while, and it's all very satisfying, but there is the possibility that Himmelstoss can get him in trouble for that. So it doesn't feel entirely satisfactory. 
We go back to the previous discussion about what they'd do if peace were declared, and they consider going back to school. For all of about 5 seconds before they tot up how many are left from their class and decide that the teacher would never be able to control them anyway. Cue making fun of their old teacher. Then cue a rather depressing realisation that the war has essentially ruined the psyches of an entire generation of young men. Thanks guys, I was beginning to hope that this would be a comparatively happy chapter. 
So, of course, Himmelstoss has kicked up a fuss and tries to find Tjaden to knock him down a couple notches. It doesn't go so well, with the company's lieutenant giving him a dressing down, while Tjaden and Kropp get periods of open arrest each. Considering that open arrest is essentially being locked in a room that's allowed visitors, it doesn't sound all that bad. They reckon that Himmelstoss will last 3 days. Please let there be a pool set up. 
After roll call, Kat and Bäumer decide to go steal a goose that they noticed on the way to their job on the front last chapter. It doesn't go as well as they'd hoped, but they do get the goose, which is the important thing I suppose. They have an intimate moment of silence as they cook the goose in a hut with blacked out windows in the middle of the night. It's all very sweet and affectionate, if a little bit trippy at points. Granted, he is half asleep, but it's still a bit odd to read. They eventually get round to eating it and, having had their fill, even bring a bit back to give to Tjaden and Kropp in open arrest. And that's pretty much where it ends, with that little show of camaraderie. 

This was one of those quieter chapters, where there are little hints and reminders about the war and the damage it's causing, but it's mostly focused on the quiet moments where the group is just relaxing together. I rather like these chapters, because from what I've seen of war films, there seems to be comparatively little of this slow build-up of character development and relationships growing, which I think works to their detriment. But yeah, I liked this chapter, if only for the goose section at the end. 

Signing off, 

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