The Reality of the War
In Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, he shows that even if the soldiers have physically survived all the bullets and bombs, they have been mentally wounded in ways they did not expect by the cruel reality of the war, the evil things that they have to do in the war, and the hopelessness with which it leaves them.
When the men first go into the war, they are giddy and enthusiastic about fighting for their country. They are called the “iron youth” by their teacher Kantorek that they all look up to and are told that the war would make them all glorious and honorable (18). As the novel progresses the soldiers soon realize that the war was not as glamorous as their teacher had made it out to be, and that they would have to watch some of their best friends, and people they grew up with die before their eyes. Paul’s first encounter with death that hit home was when his good friend and schoolmate Kemmerich died: “This is the most disturbing and hardest parting I have ever seen” he thinks as Kemmerich cries in his hospital bed. Paul feels helpless and wants to make his friend feel better but he can’t; you notice signs of him attempting to detach himself from his true emotions on the way back from the hospital: “thoughts of girls, of flowery meadows, of white clouds suddenly come into my head”. Paul is providing a mental escape for himself so he doesn’t have to think about the tragic event that has happened. (31) (33). They are also faced with gross conditions that do not fit the glorious idea of war that they had in mind, when rats find their food: “(The rats) have shocking, evil, naked faces…Almost every man has had his bread gnawed” This is a reality check to the men when they notice that the conditions of war are not as grand as they had originally expected (102). Remarque shows that the soldiers are realizing the true reality of the war and that they are in for a lot more than they bargained for, they are slowly starting to...
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