All Quiet on the Western Front - Paper

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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is a war novel telling about “the generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.” In this novel, Remarque gives us the impression of war through the eyes and experiences of Paul Baumer and his classmates. These men are trained for war, but do not realize the horrors of war and that military life brings out the worst in men, particularly the abuse of power over lesser men, a significant metaphor Kat makes in the book because it illustrates how great countries want to attack lesser countries to gain more power; imperialism, which was one of the main causes for war. Remarque argues his antiwar position by introducing the idea of the abuse and corruption of power during war through strong literary elements such as the development of characters, the setting, and as well as through symbolism and imagery. Even prior to enlisting, Paul and his classmates go through a series of events showing abusive power from an authority figure. Kantorek was their teacher. Kantorek uses his role as a mentor and an authority to persuade the boys to enlist by lecturing them. “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). Once enlisted, the group gets paired up with Himmelstoss, their drill sergeant. Himmelstoss inflicts physical abuse on the boys. He has cruel ways of punishment and enforces harsh training on the soldiers. “I have to run eight times from the top floor of the barracks down… Himmelstoss… trod on my bare toes. At bayonet-practice I had to constantly fight with [him]” (24). Not even when going home on leave can Paul escape the authority figures’ abusive power. On the way home from the barracks, Paul forgets to salute the major, and the major makes him march. “’Can’t you salute?’… ‘You think you can bring your front-line manners here, what?” (162-163). The...
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