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All Quiet on the Western Front Essays: Two Years

All Quiet on the Western Front Two Years

The book I chose to read was All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. The story told in All Quiet on the Western Front occurs during the two years just before the Armistice ended World War I in November 1918. By 1916 when the story begins, World War I had already been underway for two years. From the beginning, World War I was fought in two areas, named for their geographical relationship to Germany. The Eastern Front extended into Russia, and the Western Front extended through Belgium into Northern France. The main character is a young man named Paul Baumer who is a 19 year-old private in the German army. It follows Paul trough the horrors of World War I. Paul joins the army after a recruiter named Kantorek pumps him and his friends full of glory and honor. Glory and honor they can get by joining up. Paul is excited that he is going off to war.

Once he arrives at the front he begins to understand the “terrible thing called war.” He realizes that war isn’t all glory, there is death and destruction. Paul learns to deal with the deaths of all his friends and how to keep his mind clear without turning into an animal. One of the big issues in the book was Kemmerich’s leather boots. At his death everybody was squabbling over who would get them. Remarque, in my opinion, shows you the pettiness between good friends because of war. Remarque kind of slips in these themes, some others are how terrible war really is, friendship is a must to stay alive on the battlefield, and World War I destroyed a generation.

During the time period of All Quiet on the Western Front the Russian were rebelling against Czar Nicholas II. Eventually him and his entire family were killed, and so began communist Russia. Also during this time European countries were colonizing Asia and Africa which was one of the causes of World War I. The Ottoman Empire collapses and the introduction of Henry Ford’s Model T.

If there was one thing that I learned from this book it is that war is not pretty. Despite what the recruiters and military personnel say, if there is a war you can die.

Horror of War Exposed in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front

Horror of War Exposed in Erich Maria Remarque’s 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 has an idealistic and romantic character. The story centers on Paul Baümer, who enlists in the German army with glowing enthusiasm. In the course of war, though, he is consumed by it and in the end is “weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope” (Remarque page #).

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,” (page #). 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” (page #). They have lost their innocence. 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 a heavy toll on the soldiers who fight in it. The terror of death will infest the minds of soldiers…

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…as they dread wound and death. They have nothing to look forward to but years of rage. They have experienced the horrors of war but have not experienced the enjoyments of life. They will be pushed aside and forgotten and the years will pass, and in the end they will fall into ruin.

All Quiet on the Western Front tries to explain the purpose of war and its uselessness. It is a story of an almost obliterated generation that fought for nothing but the principle of hate. Change the names, and it could have been the tale of a Frenchman, an Englishman, or an American. It is perhaps the most tragic generation our human records tell of. It bears the overwhelming accent of simple truth that makes you one wonder why war still exists.

Work Cited

Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. Trans. A. W. Wheen. New York: Ballantine, 1982.

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