All Quiet on the Western Front - Essay 5

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Christine Barna
Date 2/29/12
Per. 4
All Quiet on the Western Front Essay
All Quiet on the Western Front is a historical novel, written by Erich Maria Remarque. It is set during the World War I between France and Germany. The book explores the lives and deaths of men who fought the war and how it tore them apart. The story is told through the eye of Paul Baumer, who enlists with his class mated in the German army. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm, not expecting the hardships and despair they are about to experience. Because of the narrow explanation of the war, most people thought that war was, “romantic”, “heroic” “. Even though many would disagree with Remarque’s feelings towards the war, his novel is a great argument as to why the war was dehumanizing and it how it caused extreme physical and mental stress. During World War I, there were about seventy millions of men and women in uniform, half of them were either killed, wounded or became prisoners of war. Paul Baumer and his comrades, Muller, Kemmerich, Behm, and Kropp are all part of that total at the end of the war. But Paul expresses that he and his friends were dead long before any bullets pierced their skin. In the last battle scene of the book, Paul and his only surviving friend, Kat, are fighting in a storm swept front. “Our hands our earth, our bodies’ clay and our eyes pool of rain. We do not know whether we still live.”(Remarque 87). They feel as if there’s no hope. At home they feel detached, and on the front they’re guessing their survival "Our thoughts are clay, they are molded with the changes of the days; when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without."(Remarque 271) Throughout the novel, Paul’s inner personality is contrasted with the way the war forces him to act and feel. His memories before the war show that he was once a very different man from the miserable soldier who now narrates the novel. “The backs of the books...