“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another (263).” Powerful changes result from horrifying experiences. Paul Baumer, the protagonists of Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front utters these words signifying the loss of his humanity and the reduction to a numbed creature, devoid of emotion. Paul’s character originates in the novel as a young adult, out for an adventure, and eager to serve his country. He never realizes the terrible pressures that war
All Quiet on the Western Front is a book that describes the different struggles of World War 1 from the perspective of someone who was there but may have not necessarily experienced it all. In the book, there is a man named Paul. “…Here hang bits of uniform, and somewhere else is plastered a bloody mess that was once a human limb” (208). When Paul is at home, he is having fun with friends and thinking that going to school is so difficult and then he goes to war, and he sees a person blown into pieces and watches thousands of men dying. It is a very different life.
War often has drastic and lasting effects on individuals; the violence and horror ages soldiers mentally and physically. World War I was a violent and distressing war; men came home with mental illnesses and never were fully able to sink back into society. Through these lasting effects common civilians with no affiliation were unaware to the consequences. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Remarque investigates the damaging effects of war on an individual’s identity using Paul Bäumer as a representation for all soldiers; he draws specific attention to the continuing loss of purpose and ability to relate to the rest of society.
In All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul is morphed from an innocent child into a war veteran who has a new look on society. Paul used to have a carefree life where he was able to be a kid, but when he enlisted into the army it all changed. Paul became a person whose beliefs were changed because of the war. Paul doesn't believe in society anymore especially parents, elders, and school, which used to play a big part in his life. He changed his beliefs because society does not really understand how bad war really is and pushed many young men, who were not ready, into the army. Paul connects with his fellow soldiers because they are going through the same situation and
In Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, characters such as Paul and his friends become indifferent to shocking elements of war through constant exposure to them. For example, the characters are unconcerned about the dangers of the front because they are accustomed to being on the front. In another instance, Paul’s friends show no emotions when they witness snipers killing enemy soldiers. Also, Kat finds the unusual effects of mortar shells amusing. These examples prove that through war, characters of the book have become indifferent to things that they would normally find shocking.
In All Quiet on the Western Front, the Great War emotionally destroys Paul through the dehumanization of the soldiers. Throughout the book, thoughts of his future, desperation for life, and coping with his actions crushes him psychologically. Therefore Paul gains realization of the reality of the war; he soon loses everyone he has gained emotional attachment to during the time he serves and is unable to cope with the loss of all his companions. This disturbs him far more than the physical wounds in battle.
He was alone. There were so many dead people lying on the ground, and an awful smell of cigar smoke, gunpowder, and dirt that filled the air. There was no nationalism; all Paul wanted was survival. World War I was supposed to be about nationalism and the propaganda forced upon the soldiers to feel superiority over other countries, but Paul helps to prove otherwise, as his story tells what is was like to be at the front, and how tough it was to be a soldier. “All Quiet on the Western Front” portrays war as it was actually experienced, replacing the romantic picture of glory and heroism with an unromantic vision of fear and a meaninglessness feeling. “All Quiet on the Western Front” gives the impression that it is an antiwar novel, due to the deterioration of the war as life becomes meaningless and how brutal Paul and his fellow soldiers’ lives were as the novel went along as there is no nationalism to catalyze their fighting.
More often than not, war novels romanticize the soldier on the battle field as a heroic figure that would gladly die for his county’s honor. Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”, paints a vividly different picture than one of a patriotic soldier willing to be at war. Remarque’s work masterfully shows that the soldier’s expectations of war could not be any further from society’s concept of warfare. “All Quiet on the Western Front” follows a young and innocent soldier, Paul Baumer, through the living Hell that is World War I. Through Paul’s character, Remarque’s antiwar novel demonstrates that war is nothing but, irrational, patriotic fueled violence that turns humans into insensible soldiers, while simultaneously indicating that their lives have no meaning.
Through the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, novelist Erich Maria Remarque provides a commentary on the dehumanizing tendencies of warfare. Remarque continuously references the soldiers at war losing all sense of humanity. The soldiers enter the war levelheaded, but upon reaching the front, their mentality changes drastically: “[they] march up, moody or good tempered soldiers – [they] reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals” (Remarque 56). This animal instinct is essential to their survival. When in warfare, the soldiers’ minds must adapt to the environment and begin to think of the enemy as objects rather than human beings. It is this defensive mechanism that allows the soldiers to save
It’s no surprise that soldiers will more-than-likely never come home the same. Those who have not served do not often think of the torment and negative consequences that the soldiers who make it out of war face. Erich Remarque was someone who was able to take the torment that he faced after his experience in World War I and shed light on the brutality of war. Remarque was able to illustrate the psychological problems that was experienced by men in battle with his best-selling novel All Quiet on the Western Front (Hunt). The symbolism used in the classic anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front is significant not only for showing citizens the negative attributes of war, but also the mental, physical, and emotional impact that the vicious war had on the soldiers.
In war, both violence and fear revokes a soldier’s humanity. These elements of war cause a person to shut down their emotional instincts, which causes the soldiers to mature rapidly by taking innocence along with joy and happiness in life. Through the experiences that the soldiers encounter, their humanity is compromised. Thus, as war strips soldiers of their innocence, they start to become disconnected from themselves and others. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque illustrates the negative effects war has on a soldier’s humanity, through his use of Paul’s books and the potato pancakes by revealing the soldiers loss of emotion that causes them to become detached from society. Through these symbols they deepen the theme by visually depicting war’s impact on Paul. Paul’s books helps the theme by depicting how the war locked his heart to old values by taking his innocence. Likewise the potato pancakes reveal Paul’s emotional state damaged by the war with his lack of happiness and gratitude.
1. Paul Baumer and his friends, as German soldiers in World War I, collectively fight any who oppose the German army. However, Corporal Himmelstoss is an enemy whose transgressions are taken far more personally by Paul and his friends. Himmelstoss often torments Paul and his comrades for the sake of doing so, as he is power-driven and tries to exert control over others whenever he can. It is never stated that the soldiers hate or even dislike the enemies that they fight daily on the battlefield; yet they disfavor Himmelstoss openly. In addition, they all begin to harbor distaste for their former teacher, Kantorek, for encouraging them to join the army. All of the men also struggle against the knowledge that
Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the greatest war novels of all time. It is a story, not of Germans, but of men, who even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. The entire purpose of this novel is to illustrate the vivid horror and raw nature of war and to change the popular belief that war has an idealistic and romantic character. The story centers on Paul Baümer, who enlists in the German army with glowing enthusiasm. In the course of war, though, he is consumed by it and in the end is "weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope" (Remarque page #).
In addition to army attire, All Quiet on the Western Front exploits an obvious divide in powers between Paul’s generation and the one before him. This divide causes unneeded tension amongst soldiers that reinforces the over theme that war has a horrific effect on those involved. For example, Remarque proposes, “Give ‘em all the same grub and all the same pay and the war would be over and done in a day” (32). This quote is said by Katczinsky, not only does it give insight to his unique personality and characterization but it also emphasizes that differences between the soldiers. Not only does the previous generation have higher wages and better nutrition, they also are on the sidelines of the war, watching on from a safe distance. This expert
In All Quiet on the Western Front Paul witness all the horrors of war. He sees death crawling towards the wounded soldiers in the wood, hospital, and on the front. When a soldier was wounded it killed them, they lost a limb or they got sent back to the front. Another awful part of war is soldiers would get shot and stranded out in the woods. They would yell for help, but were never found. Mental wounds were another injury of war. Paul would see people go insane on the front and some soldiers got shellshock. The worst part of the war for Paul was watching all of his comrades die, and his connection with the ones he loved at home fade away. The horrors of war is clearly represented in both Battle Scars and All Quiet on the Western Front with physical wounds, mental wounds, and loss of loved ones.