Within these two passages there is a common theme--longing. Paul, in the first passage, attempts to read, but it is too painful for him to continue, because the words mean nothing. In the second passage, Paul is brought to life by the words of people, because he is reminded that his isn’t all alone.
In the first paragraph is very sorrowful. Paul sits down and pulls books and papers, trying to feel emotion as he reads the words on the page. But he feels nothing, for the words have no meaning to him. This hurts to be numb, having the ideas that once affected him and made him feel emotion not make him feel. “Dejected. Words, Words, Words – they do not reach me” (173). The books, in a way, remind him of how he has lost the identity he came into the war with. He sees that the books are marked, meaning that others have gained ideas and experienced new things through the books that remind him that he cannot.
The second of the two paragraphs is much brighter. Paul thinks himself alone, but hears voices in another room, reminding him that he has people out there for him. The voices of his comrades from the trenches are a reminder that he can survive this and that death shouldn’t be the greatest fear that a man has. “. . .they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere. . .” (212). The words, in a sense, are saving him from the dangerous outside world. He has a sense of belonging; he is “no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness . . .” (212). His comrades are there for him and he feels the warmth of the care he is receiving from them. He is saved by the voices, they give him the courage to carry on and live his life. “I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me” (212).
In both of these passages the power of words are shown. How words written or spoken have the power to change a person. To give that person ideas, gives that person the power to survive and...
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