“All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Remarque

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Human nature is one of the most abstract and widely debated concepts, yet even the most unethical people realize that war can destroy a person. However, many individuals and corporations do little to combat this. In fact, The American Leion Magazine in 1923 once stated, “Until Americans reach college they should not be exposed to the blunders, foibles, frailties of prominent heroes or patriots, or even learn about unsavoury aspects of the nation’s past such as slavery or the displacement of Indians … an undiluted patriotism should be inculcated through triumphal and heroic storytelling.”

The book, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Remarque clearly refutes this idea by showing how the main character lost his innocence and life from the war due to the stark differences between the romanticism and the realities of war. The patriotism and national pride that the American Legion Magazine urges people to pursue creates delusional men who become swept away by war.

The main character, Paul, enters the war in a delusion due to the romanticisation of war. Lying about the blunders, foibles, frailties of prominent heroes or patriots is not harmless. The lost generation happened because Paul and his friends were uninformed. they should learn about the blunders, foibles, frailties of prominent heroes or patriots because Paul thought that it was triumphal and heroic which led to him joining the army and being a part of the lost generation.

They should learn about unsavoury aspects of the nation’s past because they didn’t know that at 18 years old the war would come and steal their life away from them. They were unprepared for it. Withholding information about the unsavoury aspects of the nation’s past has consequences, especially to young people, who are the ones enlisting to fight in the war and who are the ones who are most vulnerable to war.

All Quiet on the Western Front is horrifically and painfully realistic. The book is very critical towards the romanticism of war. At home and school, boys are swept up in the romantic notion of war. Paul’s teacher, Kantorek, delivers patriotic speeches about the war. These stirring spiels caused Paul and his friends to voluntarily enter the war. On page 11, Remarque writes about how Paul recalls Kantorek “giving long lectures until the whole of our class went, under his shepharding, to the District Commandant and volunteered… ‘Wont you join up, comrades?’” Kantorek was sure that he was acting for the best, yet he was someone who directed a group of young, misled boys to a horrifying war.

They thought it was positive and heroic. However, this is easily rejected on page 220 when Paul kills someone in hand to hand combat for the first time and feels even worse after reading his name and looking at his pictures. But he rejects his emotions by calling the man a dead printer. Paul’s emotional distancing is necessary bc he could never be able to function as a soldier if he thinks too much. He cant feel much grief or remorse for killing Gerard Duval. If only the boys had been properly educated, they wouldn’t have swooped up by the blundering storm of the war.

In reality, the war is a destructive, sorrowful typhoon that sweeps soldiers off their feet. The lost generation emerged from the war. On page 87 when Paul and his friends are talking about how a man cant peel off two years of shells and bombs as easy as a sock, Remarque writes, “We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life.” They were 18 and had just begun to love life and the world when war came and destroyed it. They were cut off from activity, from progress, from hope.

They don’t believe in anything but the war, now. On page 122 when Paul is thinking about his old memories, the text states, “Their stillness is the reason why these memories of former times do not awaken desire so much as sorrow, a vast, inapprehensible melancholy. Once we had such desires but they return not…even if these scenes of our youth were given back to us we would hardly know what to do.” Happiness is in the past. Life before the war belongs in another war that is gone from them.

A craving to return is gone when they are in the trenches. They fear and love without hope. Instead of seeing a loving friend they’d see a dead comrade. Their lives have been stolen from them. They are no longer young men. They are scared, broken boys who are nothing but soldiers. They’re forlorn like children, and experienced like old men. Crude and sorrowful. Lost.


Cite this paper

“All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Remarque. (2021, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/all-quiet-on-the-western-front-by-erich-remarque/

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