All Quiet On The Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel set in World War I, based around the changes formed by the war on one young German soldier. During his time in the war, the main character, Paul Baumer, changes from an innocent boy to a hardened veteran. More importantly, during the course of this change, Baumer outcasts himself from those societal influences that has been the base of his life before the war. This rejection comes as a result of Baumer’s realization that the pre-enlistment society does not understand the reality of the Great War. His new society and fellow soldiers then becomes his foundation because that is a group which understands the truth as Baumer has experienced it.
Remarque demonstrates Baumer’s withdraw from his traditional life by stressing the language of Baumer’s past and present societies. Baumer either can not, or chooses not to, communicate truthfully with those representatives of his innocent and former days. Further, he is shocked by the dull and meaningless language that is used by members of his past society. As he becomes estranged from his former, traditional, society, Baumer is able to communicate effectively only with his military partners. Since the novel is told from the first person point of view, the reader can see how the words Baumer speaks are disagreeing with his true feelings. In his preface to the novel, Remarque maintains that “a generation of men ..
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were destroyed by the war,” (Remarque, All Quiet Preface). Indeed, in All Quiet on the Western Front, the meaning of language itself is destroyed. Early in the novel, Baumer notes how his elders had been easy with words prior to his enlistment. Specifically, teachers and parents had used words to persuade him and other young men to enlist in the war effort. After relating the tale of a teacher who exhorted his students to enlist, Baumer states that “teachers always carry their feelings ready in their waistcoat pockets, and trot them out by the hour” (Remarque, All Quiet I. 13).
Baumer admits that he, and others, were fooled by this rhetorical deceit. Parents, too, were not reluctant to using words to shame their sons into enlisting. “At that time even one’s parents were ready with the word ‘coward'” (Remarque, All Quiet I. 13). Remembering those days, Baumer asserts that, as a result of his war experiences, he has learned how shallow the use of these words was.
Indeed, early in his enlistment, Baumer understands that although authority figures, “taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. But for all that, we were no mutineers, no deserters, no cowards-they were very free with these expressions. We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see.” (Remarque, All Quiet I. 17) What Baumer and his comrades have learned is that the words and expressions used by the society do not reflect the reality of war and of one’s participation in it. As the novel progresses, Baumer himself uses words in a similarly false fashion.
A number of instances of Baumer’s own misuse of language occur during an important episode in the novel-a period of leave when he visits his home town. This leave is unfortunate for Baumer because he realizes that he can not communicate with the people in his home town because of his military experiences and their limited understanding of the war. When he first enters his house, for example, Baumer is overwhelmed at being home. His joy and relief are such that he cannot speak; he can only weep (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 140).
When he and his mother greet each other, he realizes immediately that he has nothing to say to her: “We say very little and I am thankful that she asks nothing” (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 141). But finally she does speak to him and asks, “‘Was it very bad out there, Paul?'” (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 143). Here, when he answers, he lies, apparently to protect her from hearing of the horrible conditions from which he has just returned. He thinks to himself, “Mother, what should I answer to that! You would not understand, you could never realize it.
And you never shall realize it. Was it bad, you ask.-You, Mother,–I shake my head and say: “No, Mother, not so very. There are always a lot of us together so it isn’t so bad.” (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 143). Even in trying to protect her, by using words that are false, Baumer creates a separation between his mother and himself. Clearly, as Baumer sees it, such knowledge is not for the inexperienced.
On another level, however, Baumer cannot respond to his mother’s question: he understands that the experiences he has had are so overwhelming that “civilian” language, or any language at all, there would be no use in describing them. Trying to repeat the experience and horrors of the war through words is impossible, Baumer realizes, and so he lies. Any attempt at telling the truth would have no point to it. During the course of his leave, Baumer also sees his father. The fact that he does not wish to speak with his parent shows Baumer’s movement away from the past.
Baumer reports that his father “is curious, about the war, in a way that I find stupid and distressing; I no longer have any real contact with him” (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 146). In considering the demands of his father to discuss the war, Baumer, once again, realizes the impossibility, and, in this case, even the danger, of trying to relate the reality of the war through language. There is nothing he likes more than just hearing about it. I realize he does not know that a man cannot talk of such things; I would do it willingly, but it is too dangerous for me to put these things into words. I am afraid they might then become gigantic and I be no longer able to master them.
(Remarque, All Quiet VII. 146). Again, Baumer notes the impossibility of making the experience of war meaningful within a verbal context: the war is too big, the words describing it would have to be accordingly enormous and, with their symbolic size, might become uncontrollable and meaningless. While with his father, Baumer meets other men who are certain that they know how to fight and win the war. Ultimately, Baumer says of his father and of these men that “they talk too much for me .. They understand of course, they agree, they may even feel it so too, but only with words, only with words” (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 149).
Baumer is d …
All Quiet On The Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front Whenever one reads or hears about World War I or World War II, you hear of the struggles and triumphs of the British, Americans or any of the other Allies. And they always speak of the evil and menacing German army. However, All Quiet on the Western Front gives the reader some insight and a look at a group of young German friends who are fighting in World War I. This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war… The soldiers of this war felt they were neither heroes nor did they know what they were fighting for.
These soldiers were pulled from the innocence of their childhood, and thrown into a world of rage. Yet somehow they still managed to have heart and faith in man kind and could not look the opponent in the eye and kill him. For he was man too, he too had a wife and children at home, he too was pulled out of his home to fight for a cause he didn’t understand. The comrades were taught to fight. They were taught to kill the British and their allies. The comrades had no personal reason to fight with the other, except that it was an order and must be done.
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They were not fighting because they held a strong passion for their country, or felt deeply for the cause of the war. Albert simply states, ..almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are laborers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, its merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here, and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us.
They weren’t asked about it any more then we were. These soldiers lacked passion for the war. They didn’t feel heroic because they did not hate the French nor the British. Therefore they lacked zeal to fight the war and did not fit the title of hero, they clung on to their life at all times. An example of Paul hiding during an attack shows his fear of death.
I lie huddled in a large shell-hole, my legs in the water up to the belly. When the attack starts I will let myself fall into the water, with my face as deep in the mud as I can keep it without suffocating. I must pretend to be dead. These soldiers went to extremes to save themselves from the raging war. Not only soldiers but officers of the army had come under the great influence of fear.
During one scene, under a heavy attack Paul sees a petrified Himmelstoss who is crouching in a corner. Get out! I spit. He doesn’t not stir, his lips quiver, his moustache twitches. Out! i repeat. He draws up his legs, crouches back against the wall, and shows his teeth like a cur. If officers of the army overcame with such great fear, naturally the young recruits would be horrified as well.
Unprepared and still innocent the recruits stared at the world in front of them with blank faces. Paul describes this during a front line attack. Their pale turnip faces, their pitiful clenched hands, the fine courage of these poor devils, the desperate charges and attacks made by the poor brave wretches, who are so terrified that they dare not cry out loudly, but with battered chests, with torn bellies, arms and legs only whimper softly for their mothers and cease as soon as one looks at them. Paul believes they have no business fighting the war. For they are merely easy targets for the opponents.
By fighting in the war did not mean the soldiers were stone cold and held no emotions. By not feeling hate towards the opponent army, they could not be heroes because they weren’t able to kill them. In the middle of an attack when Paul is throwing grenades at the Russians he has to stop and he thinks. The moment we are about to retreat three faces rise up from the ground in front of us. Under one of the helmets a dark pointed beard and two eyes are fastened on me. I raise my hand, but cannot throw into those strange eyes; for one mad moment the whole slaughter whirls like a circus around me, and these two eyes alone are motionless.
Paul feels emotion, and fails to be a hero for he feels compassion. We de not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. This war was not a glorious event to partake in for the soldiers. They were thrown into the world of rage and robbed of their innocence, which could never be regained. Filled with memories from the war that could never be forgotten.
This war had no meaning to them, they lacked enthusiasm in fighting for their country. They were not heroes for they had fear, and defended themselves rather than fighting. These comrades felt sentiment for the opponents, for they both lacked passion for what they were fighting. This novel holds the ability to describe the soldiers in any war. Any soldier participating in a war does not have a conflict with the soldiers they are fighting with. It is the leaders of the countries who hold conflicts and lure their men into risking their lives.
As Tjaden had mentioned in the beginning of the novel, we should let the leaders fight it out themselves in a ring. For they are the ones with a personal conflict not the innocent comrades. Book Reports.
All Quiet On The Western Front
“All Quiet on the Western Front” was written in a first person style.
The story was told by Paul Baümer, a nineteen year old student, convinced
to enlist with the German army by his schoolmaster, Kantorek. Along with many of
his friends from school, he is trained under Corporal Himmelstoss, a strictly
disciplined commander who dislikes Paul because of his “defiance.”
When sent to the front, Paul, along with his other friends, made new friendships
that would last throughout time. His newly made friend/commander, was a man
named Stanislaus Katczinsky. As a man of forty years of age he was an wise old
man as well as a friend to the young eighteen and nineteen year old recruits.
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After visiting the front for long stretches Paul is given fourteen days of leave
where he can visit his ill mother at his own home. After this leave he is sent
back to training and then back to the front. His trip is lengthened when he
discovers that his unit has been reassigned to another area. Finding his unit,
he reunites with his friends and joins up with them again in the war efforts.
While searching in “no man’s land,” Paul is confined to a shell hole
for a long night. During this night a French soldier falls in the hole and Paul
stabs him. The hours to come are very hard for Paul as he comforts and waits for
the Englishman to die. Paul’s group has a stroke of luck when they were assigned
to defend a village. Since no inhabitants were left they were able to go through
the houses to take and use whatever they wanted. This luck, however, did not
last forever. One day the French came and began shelling the village. While
evacuating Paul and his friend Albert Kropp were injured by gunshot wounds. They
were bandaged up and sent on a train back home. This ride home took a turn. When
Kropp got a fever he was scheduled to be dropped off at the next stop. In order
for Paul to stay with his friend, he had to convince the nurse that he also was
sick from infection. After being dropped off they were taken to a Catholic
hospital to be treated. After a few weeks Kropp’s leg is overcome with infection
and is amputated at the thigh. After a few more weeks Paul and Kropp parted,
Paul going back to the war and Kropp going home. Returning to the front was hard
for Paul. The days were getting cold and one by one he watched his friends die.
The hardest loss was that of Kat. After Kat had been shot, Paul had to carry Kat
to the nearest dressing station a few miles away. Stopping every few minutes to
rest, Paul frequently checked to make sure that Kat, even with his injury, was
ok. When at last Paul reached the dressing station the nurse told him that Kat
was dead. When Paul checked again a small shell fragment had just penetrated
that back of Kat’s head. He was still even warm. Kat was the last of Paul’s
friends to die in the war. Then, in October of 1918, Paul finally fell. The book
describes his death as, “…his face had an expression of calm, as though
almost glad the end had come.” The war ended the next month.