All Quiet On the Western Front Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 1051 words and 4 pages.

All Quiet On the Western Front



All Quiet on the Western Front


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 is an idealistic and romantic character. The story centers on Paul
Baümer, who enlists in the German army with glowing enthusiasm. But in the course of war,
he is consumed by it and in the end is "weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without
hope." Through Baümer, Remarque examines how war makes man inhuman. He uses excellent
words and phrases to describe crucial details to this theme. "The first bomb, the first
explosion, burst in our hearts." Baümer and his classmates who enlisted into the army see
the true reality of the war. They enter the war fresh from school, knowing nothing except
the environment of hopeful youth and they come to a premature maturity with the war, their
only home. "We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot
it to pieces. We are not youth any longer." They have lost their innocents. Everything
they are taught, "the world of work, duty, culture, and progress" are not the slightest
use to them because the only thing they need to know is how to survive. They need to know
how to escape the shells as well as the emotional and psychological torment of the war.
The war takes an heavy toll on the soldiers who fight in it. The terror of death will
infest the minds of soldiers and bring about horrible images of death and destruction
until they break down and go to pieces. "Every hour and everyday, every shell and every
death cuts this thin [line of sanity], and the years waste it rapidly." In these dangerous
moments, anybody would have gone mad, have deserted their post, or have fallen. It takes a
special kind of soldier to deal with this emotional abuse; a soldier who will not go to
pieces at the sight of a mutilated body; it takes a soldier like Baümer. Baümer has "grown
accustomed to it; war is the cause of death like influenza and dysentery. The deaths are
merely more frequent, more varied and terrible." He has rid himself of all feelings and
thoughts. His emotions lie buried in the earth along with the soldiers who fell prey to
them. His dullness protects him from going mad at the sight a slaughtered comrade or
butchered friend. He wants to live at all costs so "every expression of his life must
serve one purpose and one purpose only, preservation of existence, and he is absolutely
focused on that." For the cost of life is the death of his emotions, his survival depends
on it. Every shell that falls, every shot that fires, a soldier must face the possible
certainty of death. To Baümer, death carries hand grenades and a bayonet, and a rifle
really to take what he has long protected-his life. Whenever he looks into the eyes of an
enemy soldier, he does not see a man, but sees death staring back at him. What can you do
but fight back? He can not and will not coexist with you. It does not matter that he is a
man of your same distinction; it does not matter if he has a mother, a father, a sister or
a brother. All that matters is that he wants to take your life. The only way for you to
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