Remarque’s World War I novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, revolves around the effects that war has on Paul B”aumer, a young German soldier, and his comrades. During his time in the war, Paul B”aumer changes from an innocent, carefree young man to a hardened and cynical veteran. Paul and his comrades begin their military experience by patriotically marching off to join the army. They carry with them naive notions of the glories of war.
These visions are soon replaced with the horror of reality as friends and fellow soldiers are wounded, mutilated, and / or die on the battlefield. The soldiers join the corps knowing nothing except the innocence of youth. At nineteen and twenty they are forced to mature a lifetime in a matter of weeks as they become more adapted to their new home. Throughout the book, Paul experiences first-hand the hardships brought on by war. He learns the psychological and physiological destructiveness of war that seems to elude the civilian population.
The emotions and behaviors of the soldiers represent those that war breeds. Only soldiers can understand the special bonds of brotherhood that are formed during war. The civilian public cannot comprehend these relationships. Some soldiers like Paul and Katczinsky even feel a father / son relationship with each other. “We don’t talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have (Remarque 94).” The war has brought them together. It has made them rely on each other for survival.
British soldiers and civilians had high expectations of their government following World War 1, most of which did not eventuate. The soldiers needed understanding of their suffering and emotional pains of the war, while the British civilians felt that Germany’s reparations were highly important in the short-term. Employment was a significant issue to both groups, with the soldiers arriving ...
It is bonds like these, between soldiers on the front, that aid in sustaining their sanity. Paul B”aumer and his comrades see and experience the real war-the sight of blood and mutilated bodies, the plaintive cries of wounded men, the stench of death. The public cannot even begin to image such carnage. They see only the glory of nationalism and patriotism.
The nation is convinced that the soldiers are winning the war. The soldiers who are being shot and wounded do not share the same view of the war as the civilians. Civilians do not see the price that is being paid for the supposed victory. They do not experience the agony of wounds or the terror of battle.
Before enlisting even the soldiers viewed the war from the perspective of the civilian public. Many young soldiers came into the war as volunteers who were persuaded to enlist by teachers, elders, and political personnel. Even parents would encourage their sons to enlist, sometimes resorting to shaming them into enlisting. “At that time even one’s parents were ready with the word ‘coward’ (15).” Aumer states that “teachers always carry their feelings ready in their waistcoat pockets, and trot them out by the hour (15).”During drill-time Kantorek gave us long lectures until the whole of our class went, under his shepherding, to the District Commandant and volunteered (11).” Paul admits that he was fooled by the rhetoric. At the time of enlistment these young men all wanted to fight for their country, but knew nothing of the realities of war. As the war progressed they discovered that they were killing innocent soldiers just like themselves.
Kantorek and Himmel stoss, who as civilians romanticized war, enter the trench warfare and discover the real truth. They see that they have misled the public with propaganda and their continuous pleas to have young men volunteer. “Quickly I jump back into the dugout and find him with a small scratch lying in a corner pretending to be wounded. His face looks sullen. He is in a panic; he is new to it too. But it makes me mad that the young recruits should be out there and he here (131).” During the course of the war, Paul B”aumer disassociates himself from parents, elders, school, and religion.
Second Battle of the Marne It was in the summer of 1918 that Germany would commence their battle against the Allied Forces in what would become known as the Second Battle of the Marne, which would be the last major German offensive of World War I (Michael Duffy, 2009). It was this battle that would mark Germany’s last attempt of turning the tables of the war in their favor, though it was destined ...
These familiar segments of society had been his foundation before he become a soldier. His new cornerstones becomes the trenches and the soldiers that occupy them. The other soldiers understand the truth as B”aumer has experienced it. The gulf between Paul and the people on the home front emerges during a leave when he visits his hometown. B”aumer realizes that he cannot communicate with the people at home.
There is no common basis of the war that allows for any meaningful discussion. After he arrives home and greetings are exchanged, he realizes that he cannot share his experiences with his mother. “We say very little and I am thankful that she asks nothing (141).” His mother questions him about the war, asking “was it very bad out there, Paul (143)?” However, B”aumer cannot respond to his mother’s question. His experiences are so overwhelming that no language could even begin to describe them. Trying to share the experience and horrors of the war through words proves impossible. B”aumer realizes there is no way to verbalize his ordeals in such a way that his mother would understand, so he lies.
“No, Mother, not so very. There are always a lot of us together so it isn’t so bad (143).” Any attempt at telling the truth would trivialize its reality. During his leave Paul also visits his father who “is curious in a way that I find stupid and distressing; I no longer have any real contact with him (146).” B”aumer meets other men who, along with his father, are certain that they know how to fight and win the war. B”aumer says of his father and of these men that “they talk too much for me… They understand of course, they agree, they may even feel it so too, but only with words, only with words (149).” B”aumer rejects the comments of the older men because he understands that the ideas of his father’s generation are meaningless because they do not reflect the realities of the war in which B”aumer is fighting..
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" Unfortunately, some children aren't able to grow up with both parents around, and in other cases both parents exist with multiple problems. With this happening it is hard for children to actually complete their goals and actually do what they want when they are older, thus not allowing them to achieve greatness. ...