The Theme of Impact of the World War I on the Lives of Soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front is the internationally famous novel that tells of the impact of the World War I experiences on the lives of the millions of soldiers involved. In the novel, Remarque (the author) highlights the horror and uselessness of war, giving detailed descriptions of the negative physical and psychological damaging effects it has upon the soldier. The main character represents the millions of other normal men who were caught up in the battle of the First World War. Through his first person narration, he expresses Remarques (the author) own opinion of the worthlessness of war and the vicious effects it had upon a person’s physical and mental health. The novel not only describes the horror that took place throughout the war, it also portrays the horror and despair that take place after the war has finished. “A terrible feeling of foreignness suddenly rises up within me. I cannot find my way back, ” (Ch. 7 p. 149)

this quote, Paul is on leave sitting in his room alone, he should be happy to be home, to see all his family again, but he cannot relate to the things in his past. “Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.” (Ch. 12 p.248) This proves that a soldier’s mindset is altered; they have seen too many gruesome sights and cannot bear to live with it so much that dying doesn’t seem so bad. “….a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war” Remarque stated in the prologue above and successfully positions the reader to recognise that the youth were victims in the war; he achieves this by using a combination of techniques including writing in first person, the use of language and characterisation, which effectively engages the audience by positioning them to feel the level of emotion in the novel.

Although “All quiet on the western front” has a central Anti-war theme, which can be depicted from the detailed descriptions of battle; “We see men living with their skulls blown open; we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off….. we see men without mouths, without jaws, without faces; …. The sun goes down, night comes, the shells whine, life is at an end.” (Ch 6 P. 118) The novel also contains many other themes or discourses running through the expanse of the story. Comradeship was essential to soldiers, they needed each other in order to keep hope, In the novel, It is evident there is a strong theme of comradeship.

Paul has many mates and comrades, but was especially good friends with both Kat and Kropp. Paul even goes as far as saying; “I belong to them and they me; we all share the same fear and the same life, we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way;” (Ch. 10 P. 170) Paul explains that a bond is present between friends; one described as “closer than lovers”. Another strong theme is the reference of soldiers acting like animals. The novel “All quiet on the western front” has a unique prologue:”This book is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it.

It will try to simply tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war” Although Remarque states that the book was “not a confession”, certain aspects in the book which; although did not state, the author hints throughout the novel that the elders were at fault. Teachers and parents used words, to persuade the youth to enlist in the war, he basically infers that the elders, specifically the parents and teachers, tricked the youth into joining by stating how great an honour it would be to serve your country, and failed to mention the horrific side of the war. When Paul gets caught in a shell hole with a Russian soldier and kills him, he states: “…Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us…” (Ch.10 P. 191) The author never refers to “they” as anyone, but it is inferred to be someone from Authority. As there are actually no stated parts confirming that he is actually making an accusation, then no, Erich Maria Remarque was being genuine.

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