Erich Maria Remarque’s literary breakthrough, All Quiet on the Western Front, describes two stories. It meticulously chronicles the thoughts of a soldier in World War I while simultaneously detailing the horrors of all wars; each tale is not only a separate experience for the soldier, but is also a new representation of the fighting. The war is seen through the eyes of Paul Baumer whose mindset is far better developed in comparison to his comrades’. His true purpose in the novel is not to serve as a representation of the common soldier, but to take on a godly and omniscient role so that he may serve as the connection between WWI and all past and future melees of the kind. Baumer becomes the representation of all men, and, through him, the reader comes to see the true essence of such a human struggle.
Though the novel introduces the reader to a seasoned soldier in the German army, its tale of war begins even before enlistment. The soldier’s “bellies are full with beef and haricot beans;” their hearts are full of happiness. “The cook,” or one’s parents, “spoons…out a great dollop,” or provides for their needs (1). Before enlistment, the men’s futures were good and certain; “each man had a mess tin full for the evening” (1). Though sheltered, the men were “satisfied and at peace”(1). Shortly after these introductory passages, Baumer expresses his disdain for this prior life, suggesting that the soldiers’ present paradigms are the only views that are reliable; “our generation is more to be trusted than [the older generation]” (12). However, though these men have been alerted to the ways of the world, these revelations visibly corrupt them for within their soul (“under their nails”) lies the…
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…ar-mongering patriots, it sympathizes with mankind. The tale never deviates from this antiwar thesis, ingeniously allowing the everyday person to comprehend the stupidity of the bloodshed pervading world history. There is no real group designated as an enemy since the true culprit of wartime horror is war itself. Though this pacifist statement is made quite epigrammatically, it takes the reader until the end of the novel to understand the true power of such an idea. In the last few lines, the inner battle one fights in a war is linked to the inner battle we fight with life itself. No matter how hard we try, “so long as it is there, [life] will seek its own way out, heedless of the will that is within” (295). It is the human plight to unconsciously fight for survival. All Quiet on the Western Front suggests that there are cases where surviving is another form of death.
Astronomers Wife – Just a Simple Complex Tale
Astronomers Wife – Just a Simple Complex Tale
Kay Boyle’s literary piece titled “Astronomers Wife”, is a mental exercise.
Every word and every line has an important meaning to it. Interpretation is
a critical skill in understanding everything Boyle’s story has to offer.
Although this piece has a lot of sophistication to it, the story line is
rather simple. The time period is the early 1900’s and the story is
regarding a rather young husband and a wife, in there late twenties to mid
thirties. The couple lives out on the country side of the United States
where houses are far from one another and the land is scenically beautiful.
Although their surroundings are beautiful, the couples marriage is not.
There is no love expressed between the two. Mrs. Ames goes about her daily
routine, day in and day out. Mr. Ames is an astronomy professor who has more
love for his profession than for his wife. The professor is a quiet man who
uses his wife as somebody to cook his food, clean his clothes, and take care
of the house. Mrs. Ames, a young woman in her late twenties, is living the
life of sixty year old lady. Her days have no excitement in them what so
ever. She isn’t able to experience the stimulating life there is to live at
her age. The couple does have a young woman servant who is there to help,
which shows the two are doing fine financially.
One night Mrs. Ames heard the sound of water in the hallway outside the
bedroom. The next morning she got up bright and early to deal with the
problem of the overflowing toilet by contacting a plumber. The plumber comes
to the house and the young servant girl answers the door. She calls up to
Mrs. Ames and tells her the man is here. Mrs. Ames gets up, puts on her
white and scarlet smock, and in a whispering voice, as not to wake her
husband, tells the man to come up the stairs. He does so politely, and right
away, gets to his job of soaking up the large puddle in the middle of the
upstairs hallway. The plumber is respectful and has manors, something Mrs.
Ames notices considerably that is missing from her husband.
After staring at the toilet for a few minutes, the plumber tells Mrs. Ames