Destruction in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front

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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.
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