In the novel “generals die in bed” the boys who go to fight face many challenges and hard times, they learn who to be wary of and who their real enemies are. Whist living in the trenches the soldiers go through a lot pain and suffering which isn’t inflicted by the Germans or there allies but instead, mother nature and its many forces joined with their own imagination, their own thinking and, in some circumstances, their fellow soldiers.
For the soldiers many things seemed to dampen their spirits repeatedly every day. One significant example of this was the lice. Whilst the soldiers were in the trenches the lice were horrendous, almost deadly, in a way that the men that got them would repeatedly scratch and scratch until they had exposed the bloody flesh of their bodies. With no way to destroy or kill the lice, they had to force themselves not to scratch in hope that their skin would be healed.
Eventually the soldiers, whilst on leave, discovered a way to kill the lice, they figured out that considering the lice had embedded themselves in the seams of their clothes then they could iron their clothes and the heat would then destroy them, this worked but eventually, once back in the trenches the lice returned and the itching began all over again. All this pain was worsened by the conditions inside the trenches; for instance the rats, maggots, temperature and even each other.
On some nights, the trenches were almost frozen from the drop in temperature, which can sometimes drop to 5 degrees Celsius, this was what the soldiers had to live through. They were not allowed a fire because that could get them spotted by the Germans air forces, in some cases they could not even light a cigarette because the glow red embers on the end could still attract the attention of the enemy forces. Their generals and officers were not in the trenches with them so they continuously pushed the men that were to fight on, with no idea of what they were actually going through.
Whilst the young men suffered in the trenches, sleeping on the dirt or against the wall of the trench, even digging themselves a hole in the wall of the trench to cover them and substitute a bed, but that in itself was an enemy of the soldiers because during the night there was the slight chance that the wall could collapse killing them and injuring others at the same time. The brains of the men in the trenches were ‘fried’, they had insufficient food, like bitter tea and a loaf of war bread, which did not bring them any protein or sustenance and hardly gave them enough energy to et through each day. One of the main enemies of the soldiers was themselves and their conscious, the guilt that they brought upon themselves with every man they killed. For most of these men it was the first time they had been in any type of warfare, for they did not choose to be in the war, but instead they were chosen. They had no idea what they were doing, and they felt guilt with every bit of harm they brought on someone, this was shown by the narrators memory of the enemy soldier Carl, that was stabbed and killed in an attempt to invade enemy trenches and gain some ground back from the Germans.
The narrator tells of how he had stabbed Carl and then a couple minutes later he captured Carl’s brother, he tells of how this made him feel and how it made him think about what he was doing here, I think it also could have made it harder for him to kill again knowing what harm he was about to bring to not only they enemy soldier but his family, friends and anyone who loved him. This shows that the German soldiers were not the only enemies of the men in the trenches but yet the all the other aspects of war which they had never faced before in their life, but all of a sudden they were brought into a world were killing wasn’t