All Quiet On The Western Front: Themes Essay

This essay has a total of 982 words and 5 pages.

All Quiet On The Western Front: Themes

All Quiet On the Western Front: Themes

All Quiet on the Western Front is a graphic depiction of the horrors of
war. In the short note before Chapter One, Remarque lets the reader know
exactly what themes he intends. War is a savage and gratuitous evil, war is
unnatural, and war is responsible for the destruction of an entire generation.
Remarque is very clear on the strength of his themes, and uses graphic imagery
to convey to the reader the physical and psychological impact that war has on
humanity. But Remarque uses more than graphic description to support his themes.
Remarque also utilizes a very defined nature motif, with the forces of nature
constantly rebelling against the conflict it plays battleground to. With the
Earth itself, the source of all things, supporting his themes, Remarque has a
seemingly unbiased witness bearing testament to his observations. Remarque can
use nature as the judge to condemn war, along with shocking imagery, so that his
literature remains without a trace of nationalism, political ill will, or even
personal feelings.
It should be noted that the nature motif is carried consistently
throughout the novel, and that it supports many of the author's lesser themes.
For the purpose of portraying war as something terrible, though, the nature
motif is expressed most dramatically in the following passages. These passages
mark the three distinct stages of nature's condemnation of war: rebellion,
perseverance, and erasure.
The first passage occurs in Chapter Four when the troops are trucked out
to the front to install stakes and wire. However, the narrator's squad is
attacked unexpectedly by an English bombardment. With no visible enemy to fight,
the soldiers are forced to take cover and live out the bombardment. In the
process, the earth is shredded and blown asunder. It is during this melee that
many of the companies' horses are wounded, and begin to bellow terribly.

"It is unendurable. It is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation,
wild with anguish, filled with terror, and groaning."

The bombing subdues, but the bellowing continues.

"The screaming of the beasts becomes louder. One can no longer distinguish
whence in this now quiet silvery landscape it comes; ghostly, invisible, it is
everywhere, between heaven and earth it rolls on immeasurably."

Remarque is none too subtle in using the dying horses as a metaphor for
the Earth's own anguish. As the men face a new horror, nature is revolting
against the damage being done to it. Remarque will return to this usage of the
nature motif, with war being anomalous and unnatural in the "natural" world. At
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