""Comrade, I did not want to kill you Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony - .
"I will write your wife I will tell her everything I have told you. She shall not suffer. I will help her, and your parents too, and your child -----"".
The words of Paul Baumer relate to the theme of the story in that they express how much destruction and suffering war causes whether on the battlefield or off. It is see from Paul's concern and desire to ease the pain of the Frenchman's family that he is feeling the pain of war. Paul is also seeing the future pain of the French man's family as he saw in Kemmerich's mother when he lied to her about how Kemmerich had died. The war destroys to these young men's lives. .
The characters are being affected because they are seeing death and suffering in mass quantities and losing their innocents and the best years of their lives to this war. The men have aged too quickly and have not been given the chance to experience life and become connected to it. All these "Iron Youth" know now is war. There is no job, no girl or family that they are connected to. The men's only life and family that they know now is war, their comrades, and how to survive and avoid death by chance. .
The plot of the book helps to visualize in the beginning, their killing the enemy, not people or individuals. They do not discover that they too, have a family who is dreading that letter home confirming that their beloved soldier and son or brother is dead. War is leading these boys to see only the enemy, and not the face or name that goes with the face of the man that has just been killed. All these men know is that this man, the enemy, is fighting for the other side and if this man is not killed first then he would kill. Paul and his comrades are taught to disregard that these men, the enemy, are people and only consider them as a whole the enemy.