What Has War Made Me?
War can do many horrible things to its soldiers, but it can also save them from themselves. All Quiet on the Western Front written by Erich Maria Remarque is a testament of Paul Bäumer. He and seven classmates enlist in World War I. They experience and witness unspeakable violence becoming soldiers. More violence than anyone should ever see. It corrupts most of the soldier’s minds because of the trauma that they have faced. Although war dehumanized many of the young men, war in many ways made Paul Bäumer more human.
In chapter six, Paul witnessed the worst of the tragic horrors, which in the end gave him a different perspective on life that not many men get a chance to gain. “I take out a scrap of bread, eat the white and put the crust back in my knapsack; form time to time I nibble at it.” (108). Paul has learned to use limited resources, war taught him to be smart in the moment, so that in the future he can be safe. Paul also learned to prolong his equipment; he can make his resources last for longer for use when times get desperate, which they often were. “Dead soldiers, who lie there-it can’t be helped- who cry and clutch at their legs as we spring away over them.” (116). Paul becomes more human in this case, because seeing this dying/dead solider gives him the personal experience of watching human suffering and he has compassion and feels sorrow as he marches on to survive. This connects Paul with own demons, his negative emotions. That sounds like a bad thing, to be connected to your negative side, but in reality it’s a good thing to be connected to both your negative and positive side of emotions. These experiences that Paul went through could have made him crumble and fall, or make him a stronger man overall, it was up to him which path he would choose. He was resilient in the face of the worst of human conditions. He used the power of choice, to remain hopeful and not become defeated.
Most men would not be happy to go...
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