LeeEnglish IIMrs. SmithDecember 5rd, 2017All Quiet on the Western Front Final Essay: The Reality of War “What exactly is war for?” (205). In Erich Maria Remarque’s, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” through the story of Paul Bäumer, a 18-year-old German soldier, there are attacks on the “romanticized” view of war. “All Quiet on the Western Front,” juxtaposes the honor and nationalistic view of war to the actual reality and terror of war. To begin, Paul and his comrades were full of hope for their country, but that soon ends when they face the harsh reality of the front. Upon battle, Paul and his comrades come to the realization that war was not as it was first depicted to them to be; the endless torture, the loneliness and the sacrifices.
In Remarque’s, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” he portrays the theme that there is no glory, romance or heroism in war. This theme is conveyed by Paul’s experiences on and off the battlefield through his gradual realization that he was not fighting for his country—but rather for his own survival. Paul first realizes that there is no glory, romance or heroism in war when he encounters the terror and reality of the warfront. As Paul and his comrades all began enlisting to the army, however their visions of the romance, heroism and glories of war are soon swept away with the terror of the front and the witnessing of the death of their fellow comrades on the battlefield. Remarque only gives the reading a mere glimpse of the horror of war through his gruesome imagery of the front.
Paul and his comrades live in very bad conditions, they do not have enough food and they live with mice. They also have to witness the deaths of their friends. To the soldiers, “the front is a cage,” (101) where they “have become wild beasts… defending themselves against annihilation” (103). Paul and his comrades are not fighting for the glory of their nation but rather they are fighting only for their own survival and have been transformed into animal-like killing beasts.
Paul had enlisted only because the “older generation” had convinced them. Paul is into joining the army by Kantorek (former teacher) and Himmelstoss (non-commissioned officer). Paul and his friends “trusted them” and “the idea of authority, which they represented were associated in our minds with a greater insight and a humane wisdom. But the first death they saw shattered this belief… The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught to us broke in pieces” (12). Through Paul’s experience at the front, he learns the cruel reality of war.
Paul explains how the older generation have betrayed them about the glories, romance and heroism of war, by leaving out the horrors of war and by filling the young men with lies. Remarque demonstrates the theme that there is no heroism, romance or glory in war. Furthermore, Remarque demonstrates the theme that there is no heroism, romance or glory in war. Remarque depicts the of the war of those not fighting in it as they are unable to understand the reality of the war. When Paul returns home on leave, the ignorance of those not in the war become evident.
Paul has been transformed by the war into an animal-like beast that can no longer fit and relate into everyday society. The common people do not know of the harsh realities of war, and thus innocently talk as though the fighting and killing is glorifying and honorable. For example, Paul’s father “would rather Paul keep his uniform on so that he could take Paul to visit his acquaintances” (164). Paul’s father shows the perspective of the majority of civilians as they are so blinded by propaganda that they cannot understand the war’s destructive and traumatic effects on the soldiers, asking Paul to “tell him about the front.” Paul says that his father “is curious in a way that I find stupid and distressing” and that he can “no longer have any real contact with him” (165). Paul’s father represents society’s unawareness to the fact that there is no glory, romance or heroism in war.
Remarque demonstrates the theme that there is no heroism, romance or glory in war. The war has stripped Paul of all innocence and everything he ever knew. Only a couple years later after enlisting, when Paul is 20-years-old, Paul knows “nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow” (260). Paul began the war as a young boy, but now he left with only despair, death, fear and solitude. The war has destroyed Paul, and he realized that the promise of the glory, romance and heroism of war was false.
Remarque’s, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” is the depiction of German soldier, Paul Baumer’s war experience. Remarque demonstrates the theme that there is no heroism, romance or glory in war. All Quiet on the Western Front Final Essay