Essay All Quiet On The Western Front

Essay All Quiet On The Western Front

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The two classic war novels ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque and ‘Catch 22’ by Joseph Heller both provide a graphic insight into the life of soldiers serving their country in the historic world wars. One distinct theme of interest found in both books, is the way in which war has physically and mentally re-shaped the characters. Remarque creates the character Paul Baümer, a young soldier who exposes anxiety and PTSD (commonly known as Shellshock) through his accounts of WW1’s German army. ‘Catch 22’ however, is written in the third person and omnisciently explores insanity and bureaucracy in an American Bombardier Squadron through its utter lack of logic. The two novels use their structure, characters, symbolism and setting to make a spectacle of the way war re-shapes the soldiers.
Erich Remarque uses the character Paul Baümer to depict the image of war. All of the knowledge the reader acquires, of war and its effects on the men are through his thoughts and experiences. Due to this first person narrative, the reader is made to see war through the young man’s eyes making the events he encounters seem like we are also going through them. Having a biased narrator does mean that their integrity has to be questioned. On the other hand, it means that they are thinking for all of the other characters in the novel and the reader is given an insight into a particular perspective.
The reader is presented with all of Paul Baümers inner most thoughts and feelings as he lives through the war allowing them to see first-hand the mental, emotional and physical effects on him. He was once a kind and emotional adolescent before the war and loved his family and poetry. His characteristics directly contrast with the war as ...


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...ncept is used to show the illogical rules and guidelines the soldiers were forced to live under and also how illogical the concept of war is.
The climax is found in Chapter 40 when Yossarian is given the chance to go home but only at the expense of his squadron. He has to make a choice between his freedom and protection or the protection of the men. This tests him to see if he still has a moral concern and kindness for his friends, or whether he will become the selfish survivor and choose himself.
To conclude, both ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and ‘Catch 22’ expose the lack of logic and horror that comes with war. The novels also uncover the changes that happen to the men due to the horrors they face. The war forces the soldiers to turn their emotions off and disconnect themselves from their humanity, becoming beasts that act on their simple survival instincts.

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