Essay on All Quiet on the Western Front

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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 representation of all men, and, through him, the reader comes to see the true essence of such a human struggle. Though the novel introduces the reader to a seasoned soldier in the German army, its tale of war begins even before enlistment. The soldier’s “bellies are full with beef and haricot beans;” their hearts are full of happiness. “The cook,” or one’s parents, “spoons…out a great dollop,” or provides for their needs (1). Before enlistment, the men’s futures were good and certain; “each man had a mess tin full for the evening” (1). Though sheltered, the men were “satisfied and at peace”(1). Shortly after these introductory passages, Baumer expresses his disdain for this prior life, suggesting that the soldiers’ present paradigms are the only views that are reliable; “our generation is more to be trusted than [the older generation]” (12). However, though these men have been alerted to the ways of the world, these revelations visibly corrupt them for within their soul (“under their nails”) lies the... ... middle of paper ... patriots, it sympathizes with mankind. The tale never deviates from this antiwar thesis, ingeniously allowing the everyday person to comprehend the stupidity of the bloodshed pervading world history. There is no real group designated as an enemy since the true culprit of wartime horror is war itself. Though this pacifist statement is made quite epigrammatically, it takes the reader until the end of the novel to understand the true power of such an idea. In the last few lines, the inner battle one fights in a war is linked to the inner battle we fight with life itself. No matter how hard we try, “so long as it is there, [life] will seek its own way out, heedless of the will that is within” (295). It is the human plight to unconsciously fight for survival. All Quiet on the Western Front suggests that there are cases where surviving is another form of death.
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