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The Two Sides of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front

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The Two Sides of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front

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Sam Monroe 9/21/10
All Quiet Essay
Words: 822

The Two Sides of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front

There are figuratively two Paul Baumer’s in All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Paul becomes a different person when he joins the army. Before the war, Paul went to school and wrote poetry and led the normal life of a teenager. When he enlists in the military, he remains the same person on the outside, but changes drastically on the inside. This change allows him to survive on the front but at the price of losing his innocence.

Prior to the war, Paul remained an innocent little schoolboy. Paul wrote poems and short stories and loved to escape into the sheer beauty of nature. Paul lived in a time where the only people who understood how terrifying and unnatural the war was, were those who were fighting it. Paul just wanted to go along with all of his friends and joined the war thinking it would be heroic and manly. Little did he know that the war would dictate how he would perceive everything. Paul quickly learns that in order to survive one must become and animal. One must revert back to their primal instincts otherwise they are no more than mincemeat. This regression into his animal instincts changes how Paul sees everything. But, underneath the uniform, he remains a child. “But when we go bathing and strip, suddenly we have slender legs again and slight shoulders. We are no longer soldiers, but little more than boys;”(29). Paul wants nothing more than to go back home and try to live a normal life. But, when he returns, he does not remember how to be a child again. He looks like a boy but has the war hardened skills and emotions of a veteran. He tries to escape into literature and nature as he used to, but he cannot. ”I want that quiet rapture again. I want to feel the same powerful, nameless urge that I used to feel when I turned to my books”(171). The war completely changes Paul’s life. He simply cannot...