Essay on All Quiet on the Western Front

1920 Words 8 Pages
All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque’s literary breakthrough, All Quiet on the Western Front, describes two stories. It meticulously chronicles the thoughts of a soldier in World War I while simultaneously detailing the horrors of all wars; each tale is not only a separate experience for the soldier, but is also a new representation of the fighting. The war is seen through the eyes of Paul Baumer whose mindset is far better developed in comparison to his comrades’. His true purpose in the novel is not to serve as a representation of the common soldier, but to take on a godly and omniscient role so that he may serve as the connection between WWI and all past and future melees of the kind. Baumer becomes the
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This remorse, “blue-black like poison”, kills them slowly until nothing is left but, “dead ashen hollows” (15). This first chapter describes a war from beginning to end, dealing with the events that transform the men from “Iron Youth” to “old folk” in a matter of two years (18).

Chapter 2 sums up the war in a different fashion, showing the contrast between the uselessness of past knowledge and the “raw and emotional skills necessary” in the trenches (20). The duties imposed on the camp by Corporal Himmelstoss symbolize the hours of work and duties done before enlistment that mean nothing during the war. Being “put through every conceivable refinement of parade ground soldiering” shows how schoolbook tasks were diligently performed only for fear of how society would perceive the boys if they were to do otherwise (26). Himmelstoss himself is the embodiment of previous responsibilities that only make the men “howl with rage” at present (26). The death of Kemmerich goes hand in hand with the death of innocence, Kemmerich’s shiny boots being the small glimpse of hope that keeps the men going. Baumer receives saveloy, hot tea, and rum from Muller for salvaging the boots. In return for giving Muller a sense of hope, Baumer receives a more needed sense of comfort and satisfaction. His hunger, one “greater than comes from the belly alone” (33), is thus satisfied. Chapter 7 directly reinforces this transition from an old life into a new one. Baumer “feels an attraction” to the
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