“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another (263).” Powerful changes result from horrifying experiences. Paul Baumer, the protagonists of Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front utters these words signifying the loss of his humanity and the reduction to a numbed creature, devoid of emotion. Paul’s character originates in the novel as a young adult, out for an adventure, and eager to serve his country. He never realizes the terrible pressures that war imposes on soldiers, and at the conclusion of the book the empty shell resembling Paul stands testament to this. Not only does Paul lose himself throughout the course of the war, but he loses each of his 20 classmates who volunteered with him, further emphasizing the terrible consequences of warfare. The heavy psychological demands of life in the trenches and the harsh reality of war strip Paul of his humanity and leave him with a body devoid of all sentiment and feeling.
Remarque introduces Paul at the beginning of the novel as a veteran. We never see his first days in combat, but we do see comparable experiences in the battles of the replacement soldiers. Paul comments in the beginning on the secrets to staying alive in the trenches by learning the skill of differentiating between the different kinds of shells by the sounds that they make. He can distinguish between gas shells, trench mortars, and long range artillery by saying, “That was a twelve-inch, you can tell by the report. Now you’ll hear the burst (52).” and imparts this key knowledge to the recruits. These actions exemplify Paul’s character at the beginning of the novel. He cares about the other soldiers and uses his veteran’s status as a source of knowledge for the volunteers. Paul has light humor in regards to a soldier’s life as well. This quote exhibits Paul’s carefree attitude toward his situation,
The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his stomach and intestines. Three-quarters of his vocabulary is derived from these regions, and they give an intimate flavour to expressions of his greatest joy as well as of his deepest indignati...
... middle of paper ...
...t have to infer his change, Paul states for the reader, and he is right.
Throughout All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul Baumer undergoes drastic changes as he realizes the full extent in which the war has changed his life. Paul starts out the book as a veteran, yet he is never the less changed by the war that shook the world. Paul realizes the full extent of his transformation when he is forced to kill a Frenchman just because the Frenchman tried to find shelter. Paul Baumer changed by a subject too messy to be discussed in proper decorum. T.S. Matthews says, “This is a book about something that nobody likes to talk of too much. It is about what happens to men in war. It has nothing whatever to do with the politeness, the nobilities, or any of the sometimes pretty and sometimes ridiculous notions to which the world has once again settled down (130).” Paul is changed by a war directed by people who had no idea of the horrors that would change the men of their country. Paul lived in brotherhood and died in anonymity. His life wasted by a political war, and uncaring generals. Only by accepting his transformation can Paul be at peace with his life and live in peace in death.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front “I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another (263).” Powerful changes result from horrifying experiences. Paul Baumer, the protagonists of Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front utters these words signifying the loss of his humanity and the reduction to a numbed creature, devoid of emotion.... [tags: Remarque Quiet Western Front Essays]
1717 words (4.9 pages)
- Fear, an emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat, a feeling that no one wants to go through on a serious level. Imagine suddenly waking up to the sounds of gunshots and bombs without warning or constantly being surrounded by formidable men bearing guns. These experiences were not unusual for Ishmael Beah, the author of the book A Long Way Gone, and Paul Baumer, the protagonist of All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque. Both books are based off a war; however, All Quiet on the Western Front is based off Paul’s involvement in WWI and A Long Way Gone is about Ishmael’s exposure to the civil war within Sierra Leone.... [tags: Anxiety, Fear, Mattru Jong, Erich Maria Remarque]
1080 words (3.1 pages)
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque "All Quiet on the Western Front" was written in a first person style. The story was told by Paul Baümer, a nineteen year old student, convinced to enlist with the German army by his schoolmaster, Kantorek. Along with many of his friends from school, he is trained under Corporal Himmelstoss, a strictly disciplined commander who dislikes Paul because of his "defiance." When sent to the front, Paul, along with his other friends, made new friendships that would last throughout time.... [tags: All Quiet on the Western Front]
573 words (1.6 pages)
- “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a novel written by Erich Maria Remarque. It is a war novel that tells the story of a young man and his experiences in combat during World War I. The title of the novel roots from a phrase used to describe the silence between shellings and infantry attacks during the battles fought on the western front ( Text, 895 ). Although World War I was a very real event, the testaments of the main character in “All Quiet on the Western Front” is purely fictional, but they are based on the accounts of veterans of the war.... [tags: All Quiet on the Western Front Essays]
1003 words (2.9 pages)
- At the beginning of the 20th Century, the great powers of the world engaged in the largest war concerning deaths in modern times. This war, which is often called the Great War, or World War I, had serious consequences that have affected our world today a great deal. Many great novels were written this century dealing with the Great War. One book, All Quiet on the Western Front, has been considered a classic and possibly "the greatest war novel of all time." The story follows the adventures of a German solider, Paul Baumer, from the time he enters the military to his unfortunate death at the end.... [tags: Quiet Western Front Great War]
930 words (2.7 pages)
- Importance of Life Revealed in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque's classic war novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, deals with the many ways in which World War I affected people's lives, both the lives of soldiers on the front lines and the lives of people on the homefront. One of the most profound effects the war had was the way it made the soldiers see human life. Constant killing and death became a part of a soldier's daily life, and soldiers fighting on all sides of the war became accustomed to it.... [tags: All Quiet on the Western Front Essays]
894 words (2.6 pages)
- Horror of War Exposed in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the greatest war novels of all time. It is a story, not of Germans, but of men, who even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. The entire purpose of this novel is to illustrate the vivid horror and raw nature of war and to change the popular belief that war has an idealistic and romantic character. The story centers on Paul Baümer, who enlists in the German army with glowing enthusiasm. In the course of war, though, he is consumed by it and in the end is "weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope" (Remarque pa... [tags: All Quiet on the Western Front Essays]
1078 words (3.1 pages)
- A Deconstruction of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front The young soldiers depicted in Erich Maria Remarque's text All Quiet on the Western Front represent a generation without precedent, constancy, or forethought. The men, answering their elders' calls to become national heroes, have lost their innocence on the battlefield and remain forever altered in belief and spirit. Remarque contrasts the cold realities of war in the present to the tranquility of the past in order to illustrate the psychological transformation of the men stationed on the frontlines.... [tags: All Quiet on the Western Front Essays]
1533 words (4.4 pages)
- Theme of Destruction in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front Everyone knows what war is. It's a nation taking all of its men, resources, weapons and most of its money and bearing all malignantly towards another nation. War is about death, destruction, disease, loss, pain, suffering and hate. I often think to myself why grown and intelligent individuals cannot resolve matters any better than to take up arms and crawl around, wrestle and fight like animals. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque puts all of these aspects of war into a vivid story which tells the horrors of World War 1 through a soldier's eyes.... [tags: All Quiet on the Western Front Essays]
1541 words (4.4 pages)
- The Courage and Strength in All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque As I enter my last week as a twenty-year-old, I find myself nostalgically looking back on the past two decades while wondering what life has in store for me over the next two. Where will I be in twenty years. What will I have accomplished. Where will I be living. Will I be married. Have chil… wait a minute, no, that one will have to wait a few more years. These questions have all passed through my mind at one point or another over the last few weeks, but I realize that they are really quite a luxury.... [tags: All Quiet Western Front Remarque Essays]
2436 words (7 pages)