University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
All Quiet on the Western Front Essay
A soldier must have the mentality of, “I must kill or I’ll be killed” or they will surely perish. Taking this idea to heart can be a very moralistic test that most people can’t handle. All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the greatest war novels ever written because of its exposing graphic depiction of war. In the short note before Chapter One, Remarque lets the reader know exactly what themes he intends. War is savage, unjustified and unnatural. He intends to explain why the war was responsible for the destruction of an entire generation.
Remarque is very clear on the strength of his themes, and uses graphic imagery to show the reader the physical and psychological impact that war has on a person. War brings about hardship, pain and suffering to all involved. It is the battle of two sides made of young men; many of them do not understand what they are fighting for or who they are fighting. Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front helps portray the image of war and idea of warfare in a pretty gruesome way. He also made his point through the physical deterioration, but mostly through mental and emotional destruction of Paul Baumer and his comrades.
In the novel, Remarque does a flawless job conveying the horrible misfortunes of war. Through the eyes of Paul Baumer, a story is told of hopelessness and desperation on the German front lines of WWI. As Baumer and his comrades experience starvation and injury among other hardships, the reader begins to comprehend how tragic war is. They experienced things that can and will traumatize most human beings. “It’s unendurable.
It is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation, wild with anguish, filled with terror, and groaning. Ch. 4, p. 62. This scene was the most graphic and horrendous part of the book. It really exemplified the tragedy of war. Detering was very disturbed by this because he’s a farmer. He believed that the horses have innocent souls and that they’re beautiful and should never have been involved. Detering has a special place for animals in his heart so much so that he’d risk his life to find them and put them out of their misery. Remarque knew that war changes people mentally and emotionally, more often than physically.
It is very possible that he himself was damaged mentally and emotionally through his service in WWI. “We have lost all feeling for one another. We can hardly control ourselves when our hunted glance lights on the form of some other man. We are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and to kill. ” Ch. 6, p. 115. This quote embodies the thesis that Remarque was portraying in this novel. It explains how the soldiers notice their mental and emotional corrosion caused by the horrific things they have witnessed and committed during the war.
They can’t really understand why they are still able to fight, but they know that they can’t stop under any circumstances. Soldiers are forced to adopt the dominating mindset of “kill or be killed. ” Remarque realized that when this embracement happens it’s just a matter of time before they become “dead men. ” During WW1 men between the ages of 18 and 30 had to enter the military draft. This meant that post teens would be fighting for their country and risking their lives, while all they knew was school and the safety of their own homes.
The protagonist in Paul Baumer was only 19 years old in the novel and he frequently thought about girls and liked to drink a lot. In many ways, Paul is ordinary, and that’s why it’s so easy to relate to him. We see ourselves in Paul, and because of that, the war he suffers through seems all more horrible to us. This age group during WW1 was a damaged and broken generation. They fought for the principle of hatred and the dream of going back home to their families. “We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? That is long ago. We are old folk. Ch. 1 Pg. 18 The war has altered these boys; it has turned them into matured old men. Remarque was just solidifying the idea of the bad effects that war can have on a person. These boys are just out of school and most of them have probably experienced some sort of traumatic stress, which can permanently damage someone beyond repair. War affects everyone and everything it gets its hands on. It turns innocent boys into murderous men right before your eyes. It obliterates generations and makes millions suffer through the benefit of no one.
Erich Remarque was a German war veteran and experienced firsthand the atrocity that warfare can bring. All Quite on the Western Front symbolizes war exactly. It portrays the horribleness of war through the German soldiers; Baumer and his companions. Remarque has them killed, brutally injured and mentally destroyed, all to prove how terrible war can truly be. Through this novel we can truly go back and see the experiences of WW1 soldiers and how the war changed them in every way possible, as a result All Quite on the Western Front is considered one of the best war novels ever written.