All Quiet On The Western Front And Man 's Search For Meaning

1590 Words Jul 21st, 2015 7 Pages
From Man to Monster: A Study of Identity in All Quiet On The Western Front and Man’s Search for Meaning
War is consistently portrayed in literary works as a concept of horror, a clash of physical and mental strength, with its soldiers either depicted as heroes or humans transformed into animalistic killers. Favouring the latter approach, All Quiet On The Western Front by German veteran Erich Maria Remarque is a war story that captures the hardships experienced by soldiers during World War I, their disconnection from civilian lives, and the struggle and death of the protagonist Paul Bäuner and his friends. Remarque conveys the destruction and reconstruction of a soldier’s psyche as he describes the experiences of Bäuner and his comrades at the front line of the war. All Quiet on The Western Front does not shed light on the soldiers’ courageousness or heroism, but rather discusses the effects of the war on their identities, personalities, and views on life.
As the main character of the novel, Paul Bäuner’s personal struggle with identity and meaning is unveiled in grave and unsettling detail. Prior to experiencing true trench warfare, Bäuner is portrayed as being a caring and emotional man, as seen in his interactions with his dying friend Kemmerich. A soldier with such empathy and emotion is hardly suited for the front lines of the war. Gradually, however, Bäuner undergoes a major identity shift as he is exposed to harsher conditions and is forced to fight for survival. The…

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