The 19th century view of war expressed that it was the most honorable
and glorious event that a man could participate in. This romantic
viewpoint was quick to change after World War I. In addition, Erich
Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front further illustrated
the ghastly nature of war. His descriptive writing portrays the
graphic details of reality, leaving the readers of the 20th century in
shock. Since Remarque was the first author of his time to reveal
these lifelike affairs, his novel helped change their perspective of
war, forcing them to not want any part of it.
In his novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque utilizes the
main character Paul to symbolize the people of the 20th century.
Along with his peers, Paul is encouraged by adults to fight in the
war, especially by his teacher, Kantorek. Paul knows nothing about
war before he enlists and is quickly disgusted to realize his
mistake. Remarque writes, “Naturally we couldn’t blame Kantorek for
this. Where would the world be if one brought every man to book?
There were thousands of Kantoreks, all of whom were convinced that
they were acting for the best – in a way that cost them nothing”
(12). Here, Kantorek symbolizes all the elders who pushed naïve
teenagers to enlist because they felt that war was glorious and
romantic. The adolescents that followed their directions had trust in
them because of their authority. However, the ones who professed
enlisting were not the ones who did the actual fighting – they did not
witness the cruelness nor live the brutal, soldier life. Remarque
continues, “The first bombardment showed us our mistake…We loved our
country as much as they; we went courageously ...
... middle of paper ...
...rred in the 19th and 20th
centuries. Our modern technology has played a large part in changing
our viewpoint of war. Movies have started to display the gruesomeness
of war as well as video games allowing users to partake in war-like
violence. Our current war is even being shown live on the news
channels, demonstrating the violence. Therefore, the people of the 21st
century have become desensitized to the realities of war.
Thus, the readers of the 21st century have already been introduced to
the issues that Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
communicates. Along with technology, the fact that the United States
is so honest and open with war has allowed children to become
familiarized with this subject at an early age. Consequently, the
effect on Remarque’s readers in the 21st century is quite different
from the effect on the 20th century readers.
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