The Lost Generation

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Both Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” and Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” relate to the theme of hopelessness during the lost generation. Remarque’s story is set during the war from a younger German soldier, Paul, through him the suffering and difficulties are presented as fruitless and with out a main goal to look forward to when they return home. Throughout the military travels of the younger soldiers like Paul, Remarque’s view on wars disadvantages on people are clearly stated through the eyes of Paul. Towards the end of his life, he grows happy to die and is glad to pass away from all the pain emotionally and physically he and his comrades had to endure during the battle. Carrying on through the book is the sense of empty hopelessness that nothing will become good and there is nothing to look forward to after their arrival home. On the other side, Hemingway’s older veteran characters, Jake and Brett, play the role of two empty people who are looking for direction in life after the devastating war. Jake however becomes a redeemable character through his journey to overcome his psychological and physical damage from the war and gains sympathy. However Brett does not earn any more respect or accomplishes any growth in overcoming her war wounds. This takes its own path in the end when Jake moves on from Brett’s taunting attitudes and starts to gain his balance in life again. Hemingway’s hopelessness is conveyed more positively than Remarque’s critical outlook on war. Throughout both book the characters struggle with their emotional difficulties to stay attuned to their prewar lives and struggle with hope for the future. However Hemingway takes the path of a more positive ending while Remarque creates a happy doom for his brave, suffering characters. There are many parallels between the characters in each book enough though the themes and perspectives are entirely different. The main point serves the same purpose, whereas the lost generation was hopeless unless they rarely saw a glimpse of the future after recovery.

The tone of the overall book has an almost empty and predictable attitude about it, the men have no hope for themselves, and they do not convey a sense of need to get home or to survive but merely to continue to take orders until the end. The hopelessness conveyed by the characters in “All Quiet on the Western Front” is the kind of hopelessness when you know you cannot personally change the outcome of your fate knowing the future results in death. Most of the reality of the brutal war is exposed through battles or bluntly stated by another distraught soldier. A sense of urgency is not present when knowing that at any moment a comrade could be returning with “screams of intolerable pain. [Knowing] every day that he can live will be howling [with] torture” (72). The lack of urgency communicates that death is a causal event during war and the witnesses are used to the terrible sight of mangled or dead bodies. Some even accept that they will one day become like those they see in pain and fear life over death. “Every face can be read” on the appearance of each soldier who knows they are subject to the “embrace” of “the front” (53). Faces can easily be read because the same fate awaits all the soldiers, death and no hope. The characters see no future and are trudging along in an empty cycle. The circle is completed with unfilled desires to keep living when the discovery of Paul with “his face [of calm expression] as though almost glad the end had come” establishes that he was happy to leave pain, suffering and damaged forthcoming opportunities to a peaceful afterlife (296). The lost generation shared a “common fate [which] ruined [them] for everything” upcoming in the future to better their lives such as a family or a job offer as mentioned by various characters but created disappointment at the realization their dreams would not come true. This contributed to the plummeting feelings the lost...
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