Symbolism in All Quiet on the Western Front

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In the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, there are many symbols. However the main symbol that ties everything together is the boots. The boots are a symbol for loss of identity, dehumanization, and cheapness of human life. During World War I, men were put in boot camp straight from high school. They never have a chance to grow up and develop lives of their own. Although they have lost their innocence due to hardships of the war, they are still young boys at heart. This shows how their boots are a symbol for dehumanization. As soon as they put on their boots, they become tough, experienced, soldiers that know nothing but methods of survival and how to follow orders. The army breeds men to be like machines and putting on their boots is like their instinctive queue to follow orders. This also shows how their boots are a symbol for loss of identity. Putting on the boots means they all have the same uniform and follow the same orders. They are trained to be like robots and their boots is what allows them to adapt to these expectations. Without them, they are nothing but young, innocent boys. Lastly, the boots are also a symbol for cheapness of human life. The army kept bringing in more and more soldiers as more and more soldiers kept dying. There seemed to be no end to the cycle. When one soldier died, his boots are given to another soldier, as if the first soldier never existed in the first place. There was more concern as to who was going to receive the boots than to the actual death of a friend. This shows how human life was taken for granted. The boots in All Quite on the Western Front symbolized loss of identity, cheapness of humanity and dehumanization.

“I glance at my boots. They are big and clumsy, the breeches are tucked into them, and standing up one looks well-built and powerful in these great drainpipes. But when we go bathing and strip, suddenly we have slender legs again and slight shoulders. We are no longer soldiers but...
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