I was struck again by the power of beautifully written prose as I began Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front last night. Remarque is painting an amazing picture with this words, and begins to make me think in the very first chapter as Paul speaks of his teacher, and the way that he and his friends were convinced to enlist. But he notes the distinctions between his fellow soldiers and the teachers that encouraged them to enlist for love of country as he says,
While they continued to write and talk, we saw the saw the wounded in the dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. p.13
War had already begun shaping Paul, changing who he was and how he viewed the world, and in this quote, Remarque gives us allows us to see the shift, and to understand it.