In the books All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and The Wars by Timothy Findley, there is clear evidence of the nature of war. With all the efforts of preparation, discipline, and anticipation, false hopes were created for the young individuals, who leave the battlefields with numerous emotional and physical scars. The propaganda and disciplinary training to convince naïve young men to go to battle to fight for their country, the death of their comrades, and the physical breakdown are all part of twentieth century warfare.
Paul Baumer is the main character in All Quiet on the Western Front, and Robert Ross is the main character in The Wars. Both boys were at a very young age when they were exposed to World War 1. The war was getting worse as the days went by, and the soldiers were dying quickly. The commanding officers felt it was best to convince young men to enter the war to support and fight for their country. They were not told whom they were really fighting for, or the cause. In Paul’s case, Germany was under attack from many sides, and it was best for him to head for the front lines and defend his fatherland. Paul was almost “brainwashed” and was completely convinced that he was doing the right thing.
Once it was different. When we went to the district commandant to enlist, we were a class of twenty young men, many of whom proudly shaved for the first time before going to the barracks. We had no definite plans for our future. Our thoughts of a career and occupation were as yet of too unpractical a character to furnish any scheme of life. We were still crammed full of vague ideas which gave to life, and to the war also an ideal and almost romantic character. We were trained in the army for ten weeks and in this time more profoundly influenced than by ten years at school (Remarque 25).
However, in Robert’s case, he felt neglected by his family, and sought refuge in the war as a way of escaping his family and the death of his sister.
Robert envied him because he could go away when this was over and surround himself with space. (It was then, perhaps, the first inkling came that it was time for Robert to join the army (Findley 24).
All Quiet on the Western Front Essay: Effective Criticism of War
All Quiet on the Western Front: Effective Criticism of War
All Quiet on the Western Front was a sad tale of Paul Bäumer, a lad just entering adulthood, who
fought in a war that he did not even believe in. Erich Maria Remarque wrote this novel to show the
war through the eyes of Paul, who saw everything that happened; every death, every horror, and
all the bloodshed. Remarque denounced war by showing how it destroys human lives and, more
importantly, how it devours the human soul. World War I was pointless to the young soldiers
who did not even seem to know why a war was being waged. Paul showed how war affected
an entire generation, of people, which he represented through Paul. Altogether, All Quiet on
the Western Front was a powerful and moving criticism of the war.
Every character in the novel was a tragic character and a sad loss in the war. This includes Paul,
whose eyes Remarque used to show the atrocities of war to the world. All the events were shown
without heroism, or at least without what was officially determined to be heroic by the people. Paul
watched people die and killed people, something that tore him apart emotionally, but for which he
would be considered a hero for. “We reach the zone where the front begins and become on the
instant human animals” (56). The humanity was taken away from these soldiers, a horrible and
mournful thing, and completely unwarranted. These were students like Paul, farmers like Detering,
and other ordinary men who were enlisted and taken to the front, not really knowing what they
were fighting for, stripped of even their humanity. At one point Paul even said “[i]n many ways we
are treated quite like men” (91). However, they were men, even though they were made to feel
like animals. They were still men. Remarque effectively used Paul’s experiences to illustrate his
criticism of World War I, showing the destruction to humanity and human emotion. There was
already the mention of the soldiers becoming animals when at the front. He described this further:
“The blast of the hand-grenades impinges powerfully on our arms and legs; crouching like cats we
run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs,