Essay about All Quiet On The Western Front

Essay about All Quiet On The Western Front

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Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel set in World War I, centers around the changes brought by the war onto one young German soldier. During his time in the war, Remarque’s protagonist, Paul Baumer, changes from a rather innocent romantic young man to a hardened and somewhat caustic veteran. The story also focuses on the lives of Baumer’s comrades. They all begin by patriotically marching off to join the army. However, their visions of the glories of war are soon swept away with horror as true friends die in the battlefield. The soldiers go in fresh from school, knowing nothing except the environment of hopeful youth. At nineteen and twenty, they come to a premature and distorted maturity with the war...their only home. Throughout the length of the novel, Paul learns of the hardship war brings. He learns the destructiveness of war.

During the course of his experience with war, Baumer disaffiliates himself from those societal icons--parents, elders, school, and religion--that had been the foundation of his pre-enlistment days, in order to mature. His new society, then, becomes the company, his fellow trench soldiers. They are a group who understands the truth as Baumer has experienced it. A period of leave when he visits his hometown is disastrous for Baumer because he realizes that he can not communicate with the people on the home front. His military experiences and the home front settlers’ limited, or nonexistent, understanding of the war do not allow for a discussion. When he arrives home and greetings are exchanged, he realizes immediately that he has nothing to say to his mother. “ We say very little and I am thankful that she asks nothing” (Ch. 7 P.141). The fact that he does not wish to speak with his parents shows Baumer’s movement away from the traditional institution of the family. His mother finally speaks to him and asks, “ was it very bad out there, Paul?” (Ch.7 P. 143) However, Baumer cannot respond to his mother’s question: he understands that the experiences he has had are so overwhelming that “ civilian language”, or any language at all, would be ineffective in describing them. Trying to replicate the experience and horrors of the war via words is impossible, Baumer realizes this and so he lies, and is able to restore his family’s faith in him. Any attempt at telling the truth would, in fact, trivialize its reality. However, ...


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...e body suddenly convulses, then becomes limp, and collapses” (page 216). He feels the responsibility to be the one to tell this man’s wife how he died and why he died. Paul realizes that it was completely wrong and that the government had played with his mind making him think that the idea of killing at war was good. He also sees that if the situation was different, that all of them could be friends instead of enemies. The soldiers realize that they are all alike and that they have nothing to gain from their killing.

The soldiers from this novel represent actual feelings about brotherhoods, misperceptions of war and the pointless fighting. They provide clear examples of these with their experiences from war. From sitting on their “boxes” and chatting, to the realization of a friend inside an enemy, these soldiers have been able to see the realities of war and have shared it with the rest of the world. People can now see how horrid it is to be in a war and now they try at all costs to prevent war. War is bad, that’s all there is to it. Not much more you can say about it except that. When viewing the death of innocent people, the question is asked once again, is it really worth it?

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