All Quiet on the Western Front: War and Authority Corruption

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"All Quiet On The Western Front: War and Authority Corruption"

It is always easier to say how you would respond to war while looking upon it as an outsider who has seen little outside of movies and pictures. We tell ourselves "I could never imagine doing that", or "How could any human be so corrupt?" That is what we say, but I wonder what those same men said just prior to their war time experience. Surely they would not follow the same path that so many before them had, choosing to allow war to consume them from the very destructive nature of its existence. In the novel "All Quiet On The Western Front" by Erich Remarque, the author conveys the message of how war can corrupt how people view, respect, and handle authority. Through his writing, he has helped to enlighten the world as to how exactly war can change our views on authority that we once stood firm on. No matter who you are, war can find a way to work into your character, at least in some slight way. One example of this, in regards to the respect for authority, was the way in which soldiers treated Himmelstoss. Before the war had begun, Himmelstoss was merely a mailman with very little going for him in life. When the war initiated, he joined up just as many others were doing and was advanced to a high position. For this reason, it may have been difficult for soldiers to take him seriously and respect him in his position. One extreme case occurred when "Paul Baümer's friends take their revenge by beating him up one night" (Wagener 16). It is assumed that this was done since he had treated them poorly during training, and this was their means of getting back. Surprisingly, it was the same students that had so admired their teachers prior to their war involvement. Could war have changed their beliefs on respect for authority? This has also been interpreted as a symbolic attack on the older generation who surged to power during the war (16). Whether it be revenge or a symbolic...
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