All Quiet on the Western Front Essay 28

Topics: The Reader, Thought, All Quiet on the Western Front Pages: 3 (858 words) Published: May 20, 2001
The introductory paragraph of All Quiet on the Western Front states that the book's purpose is "neither to be an accusation nor a confession." Remarque never actually says that the book is not to condemn. In fact, that is exactly what All Quiet is--a condemnation. It is quite true that Remarque never accuses either side or makes any confession, but he does in fact condemn war altogether. In a critical response to All Quiet, Modris Eksteins says that "All Quiet was not a book about the events of the war--it was not a memoir--but an angry postwar statement about the effects of the war on the young generation that lived through it," (Eksteins 336). Eksteins is correct in saying this because an "angry postwar statement" is in essence a condemnation, and Remarque does set out to convince readers that the young men of this generation, as a result of the war, have been ruined.

The novel shows the digression of the soldiers from idealistic young men with hopes and ambition for the future to young men with the hearts and minds of old men bombarded by the tragedies, the horrors, and the realities of war. At the end of Chapter One, Paul is remembering his old schoolmaster, Kantorek, calling his generation the "Iron Youth." Such an idealistic title at one time to these young men was an inspiration, but even at the very start of their experiences it quickly became a mockery. Looking back after the death of their comrade Kemmerich, Paul, Kropp, and Muller reflect bitterly, "Yes, that's what they think, these hundred thousand Kantoreks! Iron Youth! Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk." From the start of the war, these young men were robbed of their idealism, and already their ideas of the future and their places in it became distorted. For older men it was different because for them it was "but an interruption. They [were] able to think beyond it. We [the young soldiers], however, have...
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