“Men may have escaped the shells of battle but were often destroyed by war” How is this idea explored in the novel?
“All Quiet on the Western Front” written by Erich Maria Remarque explores the idea that men have escaped the shells of battle but were often destroyed by war. Remarque presents the changes in Paul and his friends and by displaying the sense of isolation the men feel after the war by using a range of techniques. Remarque displays the changes in Paul and his friends by showing how the boys were once school boys who had an education and a future but war extinguished all innocence and hope for a future. The boys begin as an innocent class of twenty young men have the belief that war would be a glorious experience. “…Our heads were full of nebulous ideas which cast an idealized, almost romantic glow over life and even the war…” (p.15)This enables the reader to comprehend how much of an impact the opinion of the older generation had. Remarque uses the technique of inclusive language “When we came out here we were cut off, whether we like it or not, from everything we had done up to that point.” (p.14) to reveal the universal suffering of the men. When Paul returns home he realises that only those who experienced the war would truly understand the effect the war had on the individual. When Paul’s Mother talks to him about the war she tries to understand what Paul is suffering but Paul realises she truly has no idea. “She says ‘with the gas and all the rest of it’. She doesn’t know what she is saying…” (p.116) This further destroys the men as they as no one truly understands what they’re feeling. Remarque continues to use metaphors during the text to demonstrate how the boys’ outlook on life has changed dramatically. “…The war has ruined us for everything… We are no longer young men. We’ve lost any desire to conquer the world. We are refugees. We are fleeing from ourselves. From our lives.” (p.63) this quote emphasises how the war has killed everything...
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