The Futility of War: an Analysis of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western

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Stories of wars and the resulting victories are usually told in highly embellished narratives that seek to cover the grim realities of war as much as they aim to whip up popular emotion in order to ensure support for any future wars among the masses. However, war, by its very nature, is neither desirable nor its outcome praiseworthy. Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front lays bare the gritty, gruesome and ultimately self-defeating nature of wars. As Paul Baumer and his soldier comrades enlist and join the Germany Army in order to defeat the enemy, they themselves are slowly vanquished, first psychologically and finally physically through death. As the soldier members Paul Baumer’s company are slowly killed in battle, he becomes more and more disillusioned with the war, especially since he and his friends had enlisted with idealistic aims fed to them by their teacher Kantorek. Instead of patriotic glory and poetic war victories, Paul and his friends found defeat and ephemeral triumphs; instead of honor, they encountered dishonor; instead of personal growth and advancement, they found stagnation and watched their youthful dreams die. Through the war experiences of Paul Baumer as depicted in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, the ultimate tragedy of war is revealed; it destroys the lives of its very agents – the soldiers – by crashing their dreams and claiming their lives for little discernible overall gain.

Going To War

Ultimately, Paul Baumer and his high school mates enthusiastically enlisted and went to war first out of a sense of youthful adventure. Barely out of their teens, Paul and his high school mates are not old enough to understand the socio-economic and political factors that charact...

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... war as captured by the leaders of the war hardly depicts the futility of war, and only the through the accounts of soldiers on the front does the truth emerge, as it does in the novel – that war is counter-productive.

Works Cited

Hunt, Nigel. "The contribution of All Quiet on the Western Front to our understanding of psychological trauma." European Psychiatry 19, no. 8 (2004): 489-493.

Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. Trans. A. W. Wheen. New York: Fawcett Books, 1982.

Robinett, Jane. "The Narrative Shape of Traumatic Experience." Literature & Medicine 26, no. 2 (Fall2007 2007): 290-311.

Tighe, Joseph A. 2004. "All Quiet on the Western Front: A Phenomenological Investigation of War." Critical Survey 16, no. 3(Fall 2004): 48-61.

Ware, Thomas C. "Remarque's ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT." Explicator 63, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 99-100.
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