All Quiet on the Western Front


Chapter 6 to 10

Chapter Six Summary

The men return to the front two days ahead of time. They see coffins stacked against a schoolhouse and joke that the coffins are for them. Paul notes that they must make these dark jokes in order to keep going. At the front, they hear guns and discern that the enemy’s troops are coming to the front. The heavy enemy shells are tearing up the German trenches. Bertink tells the men that their two dugouts are gone. In addition to the human enemy, the men must also fight off the huge rats.

The French send gas, but the attack does not immediately follow. As the men wait, one of the new recruits starts to feel claustrophobic. He tries to leave, but the men beat him up so that he will not leave and be killed by fire. Finally, the shelling stops. Haie and Kropp throw grenades to keep the enemy from approaching. A gory scene ensues. Paul sees one of the men fall into the barbed wire; the wire slices the man so badly that only his hands and arm are left hanging in the wire. Paul attempts to throw a grenade, but he sees a pair of eyes and cannot follow through. Paul notes that many of the trenches have been completely wiped out.

At noon, the Second Company drives the enemy back. Paul describes how a spade cuts through a French soldier’s face; a bayonet kills another. Five of the Second Company’s men have taken hits. Once the Second Company arrives at the enemy lines, they rest. They help themselves to corned beef, butter, and bread.

The days pass, and the men continue to fight. Haie Westhus takes a hit that damages his back and lungs. Finally, new soldiers come to take their places. Paul notes that out of the 150 who started, only 32 remain.

Chapter Six Analysis

The coffins are a frightening symbol of impending death. No matter how hard the men fight, they will not be able to escape the fate that the army has imposed upon them. The dark jokes made by the men have become their only method of coping with this fact. Otherwise, they have no release from the thought...

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