All Quiet on the Western Front is a thought-provoking work of fiction by Erich Maria Remarque. This novel is the testament of Paul Bumer, a German boy convinced to enlist in the German Army and his subsequent experiences in World War I.
After enlisting with the rest of his class, Paul learns to live a life of war. Initially he, like his classmates, was full of enthusiasm. Over a period of several years, however, Paul comes to see the world differently.
He witnesses the suffering and horrors of war. In the trenches of the front line, he learns how war ruins and destroys the mind.In the beginning Paul belonged to a group of eight friends within his company; he is the last to survive. After suffering through their pain, Paul is wounded as well, and sees the suffering of those in the hospital. As he learns the nature of war, he is deeply saddened, especially for his own generation. The generations older than his had lives they left before the war, and will return to if they survive.
The generations younger than his own will never know the war, and will live their lives peaceably.His generation has known nothing of life but death, and those who survive the war will be ruined men. Even as he realizes this tragedy, Paul himself becomes a “ruined man,” and in the moving ending he is shot down. Remarque has mastered language and bent it to his will; he was very successful in presenting his ideas. He has represented well the conflict of a young man living and eventually dying in a desperate situation. As a result of Remarques mastery of language, the book packs a good deal of power.One example of this is the final paragraph: “He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping.
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.” In addition to his lingual artistic abilities, Remarque also has a rather different style of storytelling. Often the novel does not tell much detail about the world around Paul, but merely presents a general picture.
The focus of nearly the entire book is on the thoughts and feelings of Paul. A good example of his style comes towards the end as Paul becomes ruined, even details about his thoughts and emotions become obscure and vague, and the reader is presented with an image of a man who is still living, but no longer alive. When all of this comes together, All Quiet on the Western Front becomes a memorable novel about a entire generation that is lost to a war.