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All quiet on the western front themes essay

Young men across the world went to foreign lands to fight enemies in a warfare that was unlike any other to date. Instead of guns or other personal weapons, many of the developments of WWI included more efficient and less personal ways to kill, including tanks and poison gasses.

Interestingly, this novel does not simply not glorify war, it actively seeks to engage in a conversation about the empty ideals that have fueled wars and warriors and how these notions are devoid of truth and vacant of any substance. All of the teachings by Kantorek that inspired Paul and his fellows at first are proven to be hollow ideas when the boys are faced with the horrors of war and as one political symbol such as the Kaiser on his visit after another are shown to be incongruent to the propaganda that led the young men into combat in the first place.

All Quiet on the Western Front: Theme Analysis

Paul discovers that the only truth underlying war is that all parties, enemies and allies alike, are human beings—not faceless creatures. In short, the glorified notion of war and honor are proven to be false—along with the concept of an enemy itself. However it may seem, this is not gratuitous violence simply for the shock factor, nor is simply included to add realism to the novel.

Instead, this is a definite effort on the part of the novelist to communicate the human side of war, almost as a direct affront to the centuries of novels that have favored the patriotic and nationalistic over the human cost. By presenting these young men as capable, charming, able and strong—as young men we could easily recognize in our own lives—only to have them blown to bits, to witness as they lose limbs, get poisoned by gas attacks and die otherwise unenviable deaths, Remarque is presenting both notions; the patriotic and glory of war side particularly through the character of Kanorek and the real human side that suffers great pain.

This contrast is where the bulk of anti-war meaning of the novel hails from and the violence, far from being something that is par for the course or included simply to add realism, is there to communicate the horrible pain of war, physical and mental versus the hollow notions that landed the soldiers on the battlefield in the first place.

Throughout the novel Paul only comes to see the enemy, whether he is dead or alive, as a human being just like himself. However, this sense of humanity and level of emotion becomes one of his strongest enemies in the novel as he fights with himself about how he should feel about things. The world of war has completely toppled his relationship with his thoughts and he reflects a great deal on how he feels disconnected.

The death of his friends one by one, his visits home where he cannot seem to seem to feel he has a place, his frustrated inability to experience simple joy and recapture his innocence or youth, his overwhelming grief over his instinctual murder of Gerard Duval—all of these are highly emotional events that he cannot seem to process all at once, if ever at all.

He died with a calm smile on his face as these worries have been laid to rest. The wisest were just poor and simple people.

All Quiet on the Western Front Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy" 11. And so it would seem. We had as yet taken no root. The war swept us away. For the others, the older men, it is but an interruption.

They were able to think beyond it.

  • Paul and Kat, and Paul and Kropp are shown to be especially close;
  • They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear; they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere;
  • Here Baumer describes how his commanding officer makes him do over a simple task over and over for absolutely no reason;
  • Instead, this is a definite effort on the part of the novelist to communicate the human side of war, almost as a direct affront to the centuries of novels that have favored the patriotic and nationalistic over the human cost.

We, however, have been gripped by it and do not what the end may be. We only know in some strange and melancholy way we have become a waste land. All the same, we are not often sad" 20. Coffins and corpses lie strewn about. They have been killed once again; but each of them that was flung up saved one of us" 81. We are not youth any longer.

All Quiet on the Western Front Themes 2

We fly from ourselves. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst into our hearts.

  • Kat points out that the majority of people in France and Germany are simple folk just going about their lives;
  • The anti-war theme is seen in everything from the detailed descriptions of battle, to the terrible mutilations and injuries of the men in the military hospital, and the patriotic nonsense talked by the men of the older generation;
  • More recruits were dumped into battles only to die due to their inexperience;
  • The trench warfare of World War I is shown to be a hell on earth that inflicts cruel deaths and senseless suffering on all who are caught up in it;
  • We fly from ourselves;
  • All the older people he encounters on his leave have a complete misunderstanding of the war, and yet they think they know everything.

We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.