Free Essays - All Quiet on the Western Front

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Essay: All Quiet on the Western Front

An anti-war novel often portrays many of the bad aspects and consequences of war. Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel set in the First World War that is against war. Remarque describes the terrible reality of the war, focusing on the horrors and involved. The novel portrays an anti-war perspective as it brings up issues about the brutality of war, the narrator’s change of attitude towards war, the futility of war and the deaths of the narrator’s friends.

In the novel, Remarque presents the brutality of war. Early on in the novel, he describes the sound of the wounded horses and how brutal the war atmosphere is. “There is a whole world of pain in that sound, creation itself under torture, a wild and horrifying agony” (p44). The brutality of war in the novel, however, is mainly shown through human suffering. Baumer talks about brutal things that soldiers are just expected to do. He says, “When you put a bayonet in, it can stick, and you have to give the other man a hefty kick to get it out…” (p74). The German soldiers attack the enemy with extreme instinctive brutality. “With the butt of his rifle, Kat smashes to pulp one of the machine-gunners…We bayonet the others before they can get their grenades out” (p84). The use of poison gas is also a very brutal practice throughout the novel. Baumer describes this while he is in a gassed area, hoping that his gas mask is working properly. He says, “I know the terrible sights from the field hospital, soldiers who have been gassed, choking for days on end as they spew up their burned-out lungs, bit by bit” (p48).

The narrator changes his attitude towards war as he becomes more aware of its undesirable effects. Even in the beginning, Baumer realises its terrible reality and the change it has made to his life. He says, “We have lost all our ability to see things in other ways, because they are artificial. For us, it is only the facts that count (p15). The physical change of the narrator and his fellow soldiers also indicate that he has gone through an attitude change towards war. “We [Paul Baumer and his fellow soldiers] became tough, suspicious, hard-hearted, vengeful and rough…” (p19). When the narrator talks about the difference between his life before the war and his life at the present time, it becomes clear that he has changed a great deal.
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