All Quiet on the Western Front / Independent reading

The book All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque that describes the horrors of the First World War from the perspective of a young soldier. The story is told in the first person by Paul Baumer, a young man who, encouraged by his teacher, enlisted in the German army as one of a group of seven boyhood friends. Paul went home for holidays and met his classmate Mittelstaedt, now a training officer, that his old schoolmaster Kantorek has been conscripted into the war.

Mittelstaedt stops in front of him: “Territorial Kantorek, do you call those buttons polished? You seem as though you can never learn. Inadequate, Kantorek, quite inadequate–”
It makes me bubble with glee. In school Kantorek used to chasten Mittelstaedt with exactly the same expression–“Inadequate, Mittelstaedt, quite inadequate.”
Mittelstaedt continues to upbraid him: “Look at Boettcher now, there’s a model for you to learn from.” (p.175-176)

Mittelstadt arranged to be placed in charge of Kantorek’s company. Mittlestaedt has taken every chance to humiliate him, miming Kantorek’s admonitions as a schoolmaster. This shows that people, as soon as they have the opportunity to exercise power, also use it to take revenge for earlier situations. That’s why you should always treat other people correctly and with dignity so that you don’t get into such a situation of revenge later.

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