All Quiet On The Western Front
All Quiet On The Western Front
War is often perceived as glamorous and an adventure. However, war destroys many people in many ways. No one should ever have to experience the things that one does during the time of war. War is senseless and no one truly wins. In the novel, All Quiet On The Western Front, written by Erich Ramarque, he tells about the vivid horror and raw nature of war and to change the popular belief that war is an idealistic and romantic character. It is about men who even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. The major themes of the book are friendship, alienation and futility.
One of the important theme in Remarque’s All Quiet On The Western Front is friendship. Paul and his friends help each other out even if its physically or emotionally. For example when Muller’s friend Paul return from visiting Kemmerich at the hospital, Muller presents him with “a fine piece of saveloy” (Remarque, pg.35) with rum and hot tea. Muller was trying his best to cheer up his bud from a depressing visit with Kemmerich by being friendly, which consisted of the gift of good food and beverage. Katzinsky and Baumer also show their friendship late on when they bring Tjaden and Kropp some of their cooked goose. This action was like cement to their friendship. Whenever there is a negative force, it pulled them together and helped them survive.
Paul loses his innocence and childhood during the war. Paul receives a leave of absence; however, he finds it difficult to leave the war behind. “Speak to me – take me up – take me, Life of my Youth – you who are care-free, beautiful – receive me
again”(Remarque, pg.172). Paul can no longer conjure up the feelings of happiness which accompanied his youth, in essence his childhood is lost. The war has stripped Paul of his innocence and taken away everything that he treasured. Paul doesn’t know how will he fit in after the war or even if he will be able to fit in again.
In war, men, who might otherwise be brothers, fight each other without knowing that the other side is human as well. For example, when Paul killed Gerard Duval,
“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” ( Remarque, pg. 223). Paul realizes for the first time that, despite the dictates of nationalism, Duval is fundamentally no different from him. As Duval becomes a fully realized person in Paul’s mind, as he thinks beyond the man’s weapons to “your wife and your face and our fellowship,” Paul observes, as he does among the Russian prisoners, that the war has forced men who are not enemies to fight each other.
The Novel describes the horror, the fear, the despair, and the death that was brought about by war. Through its description of war in one of its truest forms: Pain, suffering, and death. It takes a closer look at the effects of war and those who lose their lives in it.