In what ways are Paul and Pechorin’s character a product of their time.
‘A Hero of Our Time’ and ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ present the decay of the human spirit, as both novelists propose the corrosive effects of war, with Erich Maria Remarque focusing more on the after-effects and Mikhail Lermontov on the process in action. The characters Paul Baumer and Pechorin can, in some ways, be considered products of their time.
The characters in All Quiet on the Western Front, including Paul, are trying to survive and cope with the lifestyle the war entails, as well as trying to cope with the issue of death, which constantly touches their lives. They find coping with this easier by acting indifferent to what is happening around them. There is a strong sense of a ‘lost generation’ as Paul, representing this generation, does not feel happy at war or at home. They all feel like they have nothing to get back to, as they went straight from school into the army, reflecting that they are a result of their time.
Paul used to be a very sensitive and compassionate young man, who used to enjoy and write poetry before the war. However, all of this changed, as his time in the army made him completely detached from his feelings, disenabling him to experience certain feelings and emotions in the future. Paul describes his new self by saying, “We are dead men with no feelings, who are able by some trick, some dangerous magic, to keep on running and keep on killing.” Paul learned to take his mind completely off his feelings and emotions due to the terror of the war, and the shock of several events he witnessed, and insinuates that they have been transformed into ‘killing machines’. This once again demonstrates that Paul is a character of his time, as he demonstrates intense emotional coldness. The first indication that Paul is unable to mourn his comrades is found when Kemmerich’s death brings him down, but he is still not as depressed as one would be with the death of a...
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