All Quiet On The Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front is by Erich Maria Remarque. This book was an extraordinary war story. Remarque uses excellent words and phrases to describe crucial details of the book. Remarque had first hand experience because he was a German in World War I.

So he expresses his opinions through Paul the main character of the book. One of the strongest themes in this book is that war makes man inhuman.From the author’s point of view soldiers was often compared to various nonliving objects that were inhuman. The soldiers are compared to coins of different provinces that are melted down and now they bear the same stamp(236). Remarque thinks that the soldiers mind state has been changed from when they were school boys the stamp being the mark of a soldier changing them forever. Also soldiers are compared with “automatons” or more commonly referred to as robots(105).

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Remarque uses this analogy to give the impression that the soldiers are enduring the same feeling over and over again as if they were inhuman.In this classic war story Remarque also describes the soldiers as inhuman wild beast in addition to the nonliving objects. Paul states that when soldiers reach the zone where the front begins they are transformed into “instant inhuman animals”(56). Remarque is saying that the zone is like a magical line; once they cross it there not the same person as they were on the other side of the line. He says “We have become wild beasts.

We do not fight we defend ourselves against annihilation”(103). Here Remarque states that the German soldiers are only defending what they have not attempting to take what they don’t. Paul says that they become something like men again after they get the food we need(106).Remarque is implying that the drive for food changes them into terrifying wild beasts but when they get the food they change back into humans again.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Foreign Policy Book ReviewWorld War I took place in the early 1900’s.

The United States entered the war late, trying not to get involved with foreign affairs. In Erich Maria Remarque’s WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, we see the war through the German point of view of a 19 year-old Paul Baumer.As more and more young German nationalists are brain-washed into battle, more and more lives are altered forever.

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Once in the war, the young soldiers realize that war isn’t at all as glorious as they had believed. They continuously live in fear and unfathomable doubt. One thing I liked about this book was that the heroin dies in the end; not because of animosity towards the main character but because it didn’t end in an archetypal happy ending. It felt more real than same old story we’ve seen over and over again where the main character sees all his friends die yet somehow survives every battle. One thing I learned from was that it really was terrifying to be at war during a militaristic industrial revolution. New weapons were constantly being brought into the war, and no one knew how to defend themselves against them. In modern day we have plans and defense systems for anything and everything, but they hadn’t yet seen tanks or machine guns.

Conditions were horrible in the trenches and people went mad every other day. The thing I liked most about the book, however, was that it was written from the point of view of a German soldier. In America we hardly ever see any war through anyone else’s eyes other than those of another patriotic American. I thought this feature did well in showing that, no matter what country, each soldier differs little from any other. It is the nation that has the problem, and the soldiers are sent in to settle the dispute sometimes not knowing what that may be. They asked the same questions of their government that we asked of ours. The only thing I didn’t like was it was a little confusing at times because of his writing style.

I often confused characters and events, but that can be said of any story. I would definitely recommend this book in the future because it’s different than other novels we read in the same ways I explained that I like it. It brought a new twist tot he average war novel. The story flowed pretty well, and the sensory details were very good. I think that this plot would make a great movie, so it has to be a great story.

Though it has been written that war has changed and is not the honorable adventure it was once concieved to be, that same idea was personalized by the author. He gave more emphasis on the fears and struggles on each individual soldier instead of an army or nation. I saw death through Remarque’s words and my outlook upon war has been altered by his message.

All Quiet On The Western Front

.. uiet rapture does not occur. The room itself, and the pre-enlistment world it represents, become alien to him.

“A sudden feeling of foreignness suddenly rises in me. I cannot find my way back” (Remarque, All Quiet VII.152). Baumer understands that he is irredeemably lost to the primitive, military, non-academic world of the war.

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Ultimately, the books are worthless because the words in them are meaningless. “Words, Words, Wordsthey do not reach me. Slowly I place the books back in the shelves. Nevermore” (Remarque, All Quiet VII.153). In his experiences with traditional society, Baumer perverts language, that which separates the human from the beast, to the point where it has no meaning. Baumer shows his rejection of that traditional society by refusing to, or being unable to, use the standards of its language. Contrasted with Baumers experiences during his visit home are his dealings with his fellow trench soldiers.

Unlike Baumers feelings at home where he chooses not to speak with his father and makes an empty vow to Frau Kemmerich, Baumer is able to effect true communication, of both a verbal and spiritual kind, with his fellow trench soldiers.Indeed, within this group, words can have a meaningful, soothing, even rejuvenating, effect. Not long after his return from leave, Baumer and some of his comrades go out on patrol to ascertain the enemys strength. During this patrol, Baumer is pinned down in a shell hole, becomes disoriented, and suffers a panic attack. He states: “Tormented, terrified, in my imagination, I see the grey, implacable muzzle of a rifle which moves noiselessly before me whichever way I try to turn my head” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 184-85).

He is unable to regain his equanimity until he hears voices behind him. He recognizes the voices and realizes that he is close to his comrades in his own trench. The effect of his fellow soldiers words on Baumer is antithetical to the effect his fathers and his fathers friends empty words have on him. At once a new warmth flows through me.

These voices, these quiet words .. behind me recall me at a bound from the terrible loneliness and fear of death by which I had been almost destroyed.They are more to me than life these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear; they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades. I am no longer ..

alone in the darkness;– I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life, we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way; I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me. (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 186) Here, Baumer understands the reviving effects of his comrades words. Strikingly, as opposed to his towns citizens empty words, the words of Baumers comrades actually go beyond their literal meanings.That is, whereas Baumer notices that the words of the traditional world have no meaning, the words of his comrades have more meaning than even they are aware of. In fact, true communication can exist in the world of the war with few or no words said at all. This phenomenon is perhaps best demonstrated in the novel during a scene involving Baumer and his Second Company mate, Stanislaus Katczinsky.

This scene, with its Eucharistic overtones, can be counterpoised to Baumers meeting with Kemmerichs mother. During that meeting, Frau Kemmerich insisted on some kind of verbal attestation of Baumers spiritual disposition.As noted above, he is quite willing to give her such an asseveration because the words he uses in doing so mean nothing to him. With Katczinsky, though, the situation is different because the spirituality of the event is such that words are not necessary, in fact, would be hindrances to the communion Baumer and Katczinsky attain. The scene is a simple one.

After Baumer and Katczinsky have stolen a goose, in a small deserted lean-to they eat it together. We sit opposite one another, Kat and I, two soldiers in shabby coats, cooking a goose in the middle of the night.We dont talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have .. The grease drips from our hands, in our hearts we are close to one another .. we sit with a goose between us and feel in unison, are so intimate that we do not even speak. (Remarque, All Quiet V.

87) These elemental and primitive activities of getting and then eating food bring about a communion, a feeling “in unison,” between the two men that clearly cannot be found in the word-heavy environment of Baumers home town. Perhaps Remarque wants to make the point that true communication can occur only in action, or in silence, or almost accidentally.At any rate, Baumer demonstrates toward the end of his life that even he is not immune from verbal duplicity of a kind that was used on him to get him to enlist.

Soon after he hears the comforting words of his comrades (see above), Baumer is caught in another shell hole during the bombardment. Here, he is forced to kill a Frenchman who jumps into it while attacking the German lines. Baumer is horrified at his action.

He notes, “This is the first time I have killed with my hands, whom I can see close at hand, whose death is my doing” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 193). That is, the war, and his part in it, have become much more personalized because now he can actually see the face of his enemy.In his grief, Baumer takes the dead mans pocket-book from him so that he can find out the deceaseds name and family situation. Realizing that the man he killed is no monster, that, in fact, he had a family, and is evidently very much like himself, Baumer begins to make promises to the corpse. He indicates that he will write to his family and goes so far as to promise the corpse that he, Baumer, will take his place on earth: “I have killed the printer, Gerard Duval.

I must be a printer” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 197).More importantly, Baumer renounces his status as soldier by apologizing to the corpse for killing him. “Comrade, I did not want to kill you .. You were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response.

It was that abstraction I stabbed .. 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 agonyForgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy? If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother just like Kat ..” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 195) In addition to the obvious brotherhood of nations sentiment that appears in Baumers eulogy, it is interesting to note that Baumer sees that Duval could have been even closerlike Katczinsky, a member of Baumers inner circle of Second Company. All of the sentiments, all of the words, that Baumer articulates to Duval are admirable, but they are absolutely false. As time passes, as he spends more time with the corpse of Duval in the shell-hole, Baumer realizes that he will not fulfill the various promises he has made.

He cannot write to Duvals family; it would be beyond impropriety to do so. Moreover, Baumer renounces his brotherhood sentiments: “Today you, tomorrow me” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 197).

Soon, Baumer admits, “I think no more of the dead man, he is of no consequence to me now” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 198). And later, to hedge his bets in case there happens to be justice in the universe, Baumer states, “Now merely to avert any ill-luck, I babble mechanically: I will fulfill everything, fulfill everything I have promised you but already I know that I shall not do so” (Remarque, All Quiet IX.198). Remarques point in this episode is clear: no one is exempt from the perversion of language vis-a-vis the war. Even Paul Baumer, who had been disgusted by the meaninglessness of language as demonstrated in his home town, himself uses words and language that are meaningless. Once he is reunited with his comrades after the shell hole episode, Baumer admits “it was mere drivelling nonsense that I talked out there in the shell-hole” (Remarque, All Quiet IX.

199).Why does Baumer do it? Why does he employ the same types of vacuous words and sentiments that his elders and teachers had used and for which he has no respect? “It was only because I had to lie [One assumes that this double meaning is apparent only in English.] there with him so long .. After all, war is war” (Remarque, All Quiet IX.

200). Ultimately, that is all that Paul Baumer and the reader are left with: war is war. It cannot be defined; it cannot even be discussed with any accuracy.

It has no sense and, in fact, is the embodiment of a lack of any kind of meaning.In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque shows the disorder created by the war. This disorder affects such elemental societal institutions as the family, the schools, and the church. Moreover, the war is so chaotic that it infects the basic abilities, not the least of which is verbal, of humanity itself.

By showing how the First World War deleteriously affects the syntax of language, Remarque is able to demonstrate how the war irreparably alters the order of the world itself. — WORK CITED Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front.New York: Ballantine Books, 1984.


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