Theme of Destruction in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front
Everyone knows what war is. It's a nation taking all of its men, resources, weapons and most of its money and bearing all malignantly towards another nation. War is about death, destruction, disease, loss, pain, suffering and hate. I often think to myself why grown and intelligent individuals cannot resolve matters any better than to take up arms and crawl around, wrestle and fight like animals. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque puts all of these aspects of war into a vivid story which tells the horrors of World War 1 through a soldier's eyes. The idea that he conveys most throughout this book is the idea of destruction, the destruction of bodies, minds and innocence.
The author starts off his book with a note highlighting the meaning of this book. It is as follows:
This book is to be neither an accusation nor a
confession, and least of all an adventure, for death
is not an adventure to those who stand face to face
with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation
of men who, even though they may have escaped
shells, were destroyed by the war.(Intro)
Right after reading this paragraph, I knew that none of this book was to be comical or heroic. It was not going to be one of those stupid stories romanticizing war and making heroes out of men who killed more of the enemy than anyone else; this book was about destruction. These few lines before chapter one set the whole tone for the rest of the book. Glory does not exist in this story, only death and sadness.
The story takes place through the eyes of a German infantryman named Paul Baumer. He is nineteen and just joined up with the German army after high school with the persuasion of one of his schoolteachers, Mr. Kantorek. Paul recalls how he would use all class period lecturing the students, peering through his spectacles and saying: "Won't you join up comrades?"(10). Here was a man who loved war. He loved the "glory" of war. He loved it so much as to persuade every boy in his class to join up with the army. He must have thought how proud they would be marching out onto that field in their military attire.
5.) One at a time, place your test tubes in the water bath and heat the first test tube to 25 , the second to 50 , the third to 75, and the last to 100 degrees c. Remeber to stir with your stirring rod every so often.
“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 imposes on soldiers, and at the conclusion of the book the empty shell resembling Paul stands testament to this. Not only does Paul lose himself throughout the course of the war, but he loses each of his 20 classmates who volunteered with him, further emphasizing the terrible consequences of warfare. The heavy psychological demands of life in the trenches and the harsh reality of war strip Paul of his humanity and leave him with a body devoid of all sentiment and feeling.
Training camp was the first actuality of what war was going to be like for the men. They thought that it would be fun, and they could take pride in defending their country. Their teacher, Kantorek, told them that they should all enroll in the war. Because of this, almost all of the men in the class enrolled. It was in training camp that they met their cruel corporal, Himelstoss. The men are in shock because he is so rude to them; they never thought that war would be this harsh. Paul and two of his friends are ridiculed the most by him. They have to lie down in the mud and practice shooting and jumping up. Also, these three men must remake Himelstoss’ bed fourteen times, until it is perfect. Himelstoss puts the young men through so much horror that they yearn for their revenge. Himelstoss is humiliated when he goes to tell on Tjaden, and Tjaden only receives an easy punishme...
Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front gives you detail and insight into the long, destructive “Great War”. Quickly, romantic illusions about combat are disintegrate. Enthusiastic teenage boys convinced to fight for their country by their patriotic teachers came back feeling part of a lost generation . This novel teaches us what a terrifying and painful experience World War I was for those fighting in the trenches on the front.
Erich Maria Remarque wrote All Quiet on the Western Front in 1929 to advertise the horrors of World War I, the dangers of complete nationalism, and how any type of war can turn even the strongest soldier into an emotional and physical mess. With the novel being written in the early 20th century, the starting point of the World Wars, Remarque had the emotions of the public and Europe and American and the tip of her fingertips. The point of the novel was not to glorify war like previous war time novels had, rather it was to show the horror and the realistic negative aspects to war that the common person would not see. Remarque uses many different ways to portray the violence and horrible aspects of war, but one of the most visual is his description of destruction. This is not destruction of buildings or human made objects; this is the destruction of actual human beings. He uses this method to be able to grab onto the reader. If Remarque was only trying to tell a story, this use of blood and gore would not be necessary, but since he is trying to prove a point about the
The young soldiers depicted in Erich Maria Remarque's text All Quiet on the Western Front represent a generation without precedent, constancy, or forethought. The men, answering their elders' calls to become national heroes, have lost their innocence on the battlefield and remain forever altered in belief and spirit. Remarque contrasts the cold realities of war in the present to the tranquility of the past in order to illustrate the psychological transformation of the men stationed on the frontlines. The soldiers appear trapped in the present and alienated from their pasts; however, deconstruction of the text rejects the present and past as opposing states of time and identity, and reveals them as related conditions that are intimately and permanently intertwined.
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Remarque, is a classic anti-war novel about the personal struggles and experiences encountered by a group of young German soldiers as they fight to survive the horrors of World War One. Remarque demonstrates, through the eyes of Paul Baumer, a young German soldier, how the war destroyed an entire generation of men by making them incapable of reintegrating into society because they could no longer relate to older generations, only to fellow soldiers.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque displays unsettling images and symbols of war as it follows Paul Baumer, a young soldier, during World War I. The constant bombardments and escaped shells of war cause the soldier to sink into a barbaric mindset of war. By using imagery and symbols to show how soldiers sink into the mindset of war the author creates a vivid picture of the many horrors of war and its mentality.
Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front is based on World War I; it portrays themes involving suffering, comradeship, chance and dehumanization. The novel is narrated by Paul, a young soldier in the German military, who fights on the western front during The Great War. Like many German soldiers, Paul and his fellow friends join the war after listening to the patriotic language of the older generation and particularly Kantorek, a high school history teacher. After being exposed to unbelievable scenes on the front, Paul and his fellow friends realize that war is not as glorifying and heroic as the older generation has made it sound. Paul and his co-soldiers continuously see horrors of war leading them to become hardened, robot-like objects with one goal: the will to survive.
Whenever one reads or hears about World War I or World War II, you hear of the struggles and triumphs of the British, Americans or any of the other Allies. And they always speak of the evil and menacing German army. However, All Quiet on the Western Front gives the reader some insight and a look at a group of young German friends who are fighting in World War I. “This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.....” The soldiers of this war felt they were neither heroes nor did they know what they were fighting for. These soldiers were pulled from the innocence of their childhood, and thrown into a world of rage. Yet somehow they still managed to have heart and faith in man kind and could not look the opponent in the eye and kill him. For he was man too, he too had a wife and children at home, he too was pulled out of his home to fight for a cause he didn't understand.
This opening paragraph is a simple, poetic version of the main theme behind All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. The point of the story is to show that war is not romantic, glorious, or fantastic. In fact, those words could not be further from the truth. War is a disgusting competition of human instinct, fought by the wrong people. It brings out the worst in everyone; it destroys their compassion, honesty, and ideals. The beginning chapters of All Quiet on the Western Front are devoted to showing that warfare hardens soldiers against true emotions. Their main priority is survival, second is comfort, followed by gain.
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 #).
All Quiet on the Western Front is the story of Paul Baumer’s service as a soldier in the German army during World War I. Paul and his classmates enlist together, share experiences together, grow together, share disillusionment over the loss of their youth, and the friends even experience the horrors of death-- together. Though the book is a novel, it gives the reader insights into the realities of war. In this genre, the author is free to develop the characters in a way that brings the reader into the life of Paul Baumer and his comrades. The novel frees the author from recounting only cold, sterile facts. This approach allows the reader to experience what might have been only irrelevant facts if presented in a textbook.
Throughout their lives, people must deal with the horrific and violent side of humanity. The side of humanity is shown through the act of war. This is shown in Erich Remarque’s novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front”. War is by far the most horrible thing that the human race has to go through. The participants in the war suffer irreversible damage by the atrocities they witness and the things they go through.
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