Analysis: All Quiet On The Western Front

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How does external wartime influences impact and shape an individual’s personal values and attitude?

Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Anne de Graaf’s Son of a Gun both offer an intricate exploration of the distressing and detrimental impacts that military conflict can have on humanity and its principles, particularly in the way it affects an individual’s emotional and psychological states. Within the texts, Remarque and Graaf focus on the influences the textual communities of the First Liberian Civil War and World War I experience, and focus on how they endure the implications that follow as a result. Both authors provide an insightful representation of their
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As Paul and his peers mature in the strict wartime regime, they realise the lengths of change that the war has forced upon them. Remarque’s use of first person narration helps present a realistic interpretation that contrasted with society’s influenced perceptions of honour and war: “’There’s going to be a show’. Perhaps it is our innermost and most secret life that gives a shudder, and then prepares to defend itself” (Remarque, p.38). As a result, an implied sense of authenticity is established to create an emotional directness and thus expands on the specific voice and world of the textual community. This idea is reinforced when Paul returns back to his hometown, where he recognises the futility and weakness of emotions and innocence during a time of societal struggle and regrets returning home. Remarque also highlights the emotional and psychological toll of war through the metaphoric comparison of soldiers to animals: “We have turned into dangerous animals. We are not fighting, we are defending ourselves from annihilation.” (Remarque, p.79) This underlines the necessity of implementing a reliance on animal instinct for survival and instigates a distinguishable dehumanisation of soldiers. All Quiet on the Western Front explores the intricate interplay between…show more content…
Graaf plays on concepts of being, in which the protagonists are forced to overcome extrinsic adversities and internal personal developments that is closely associated with the instinctual need of survival. The author employs an extensive use of alternating perspective in a diary form, which in turn helps highlight the ensuing maturation of the protagonists, as they are forced to grow up in a continual fear of retaliation. In a likewise manner to All Quiet on the Western Front, Graaf highlights the necessary abandonment of subconscious integrity in order to survive. This is further displayed through the prevalent use of negative connotations, where Graaf is able to embody the protagonists’ tenacious desperations and commitments to survival: "I ran forward, spraying the trees with bullets…I’ve felt like the child I was is still in that forest… I know I’ve left that little girl behind and she’ll never find me again” (Graaf, p.35). The differentiating portrayal of the Lucky and Nopi’s resulting mentality enforces the notion that violent warfare and its attributes “poses a significant challenge to the psychological well-being of the body politic” (Tracy, 2014). This notion is further expressed through the utilisation of a second person perspective: “I had never seen anyone shot dead like that before. And it rips something right out of
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