All Quiet on the Western Front
At the start of the 20th Century, the world was engaged in a catastrophic battle known as World War 1. During this time questions arose over the true nature of war. Authors such as Siegfried Sassoon and Erich Maria Remarque step out to introduce a different perspective of war through literacy, an outlook which many people in their time were oblivious to. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is considered to be “the greatest war novel of all time”. In this tale, the story is told from a perspective of a young German soldier, Paul Baumer, a private who changes from the time he first enters the military to his unfortunate death. Erich does an excellent job of revealing the major detriments of war, such as a lost of youth among soldiers as well as desensitization.
One lesson learned from this story is that war causes the lost of youth. After volunteering at a young age, Paul learns to mature to ensure his own safety. “I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow” (233). Paul never had the chance to live a full life before he was sent off to war. He was exposed to brutality and horror that he will never forget. The German soldier also states, “We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost”(109). Less activity means less reflection, and less reflection means less identity. Paul had already lost parts of himself and he knows he cannot come back. In Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches, a young soldier boy is exposed to the misery and horrors of war. “I knew a simple soldier boy / Who grinned at life in empty joy / Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, / And whistled early with the lark / In winter trenches, cowed and glum, / With put a bullet through his brain / No one spoke of him again.” The effects of a dramatic shift in...
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