All Quiet on the Western Front Vs. The Wars
During World War I, many soldiers were impacted by the mental and physical effects that have changed their lives in positive, but mostly negative ways. There are two novels that talk about two men in World War I, however each tells a different story on their struggles on the battlefield. On one of the books, The Wars by Timothy Findley, focuses on the protagonist Robert Ross, a Canadian soldier that joined the war. Robert Ross mainly joined to war because it was his way of isolating himself after his sister’s death, while on the other book, All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, in which the story is about a teenager named Paul Baumer. Paul Baumer is a German soldier who was influenced from his teacher that going to war was a courageous decision. War focuses us to sacrifice our humanity in exchange for survival, which leads us to our self-destruction, where we become like animals for the sake of our survival. The meaning behind this is that wars take our feelings and human instincts thus replacing them to animal instincts to survive. In the end, life becomes difficult to come back to which leads to our own destruction.
The aspect from both novels is about “men who were destroyed by war” (Remarque 12) even when they have escaped the horrors of the war. Both authors express that they do not want to tell us about the experiences in the war, at least not just the war, but rather the destructive impact on the soldier; such as the inability of young people to go back to their life exactly like before the war. There is no doubt that the entire generation has been ruined by war and were unable to function afterwards. Paul Baumer returns home on his seven day leave, and describes those seven days as unhappy personal experiences. He fails to see an old major on the street, he is forced by another officer to go back to the major and salute him according to the etiquette of military soldiers. Paul feels as though it is petty harassment. For Paul it’s already embarrassing for his father to tell him to wear his uniform so that he could proudly show it to all his acquaintances. Just to show his uniform to all his father’s acquaintances, Baumer finds it as though as they are getting the wrong idea of what the reality of war was. Paul’s father wants him to use his experiences of the war as a demonstration but insists that it is to “dangerous” to remind him of the war because he cannot manage as though he was on the front-lines like before. This goes the same as for The Wars; many soldiers were destroyed after seeing how the war was like. “…frozen fingers of nameless rivers, heralded by stream and whirling snow, the train returned him to his heritage of farms…” (Findley 46) The steam from the train could have signified the anger from all the soldiers after witnessing the death from all their fellow troops and just leaving their corpse unburied, while they move on to the hopes of winning the war. The topic of destruction in the novels is also caused by the older generation. The younger generations believed that the elder ones had greater insight and wisdom but was later on destroyed by the first sight of the war casualties. The sight of how they have been betrayed, the soldiers also notice that it is the older generation that declares war and never physically fight in it; however it is the younger soldiers that are risking their own lives for them. An example of betrayal is also seen in The Wars, when Robert is betrayed by Taffler, whom was seen as a manly strong soldier to follow; however after the incident, Roberts view of him immediately shattered. Robert states that all the soldiers have been raped by their so called leaders. “It has to be there because it is my belief that Robert Ross and his generation of young men were raped, in effect, by the people who made the war. Basically, their fathers did it to them.” (Findley 150-151) “Fathers” would be the people that are in...
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