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Themes of War in All Quiet on the Western Front

Themes of War in All Quiet on the Western Front

The destructiveness of war can be understood upon several levels. Primarily, war exposes innocent lives to violence so unforgiving that it leaves physical and mental scarring to the victims for the rest of their existence. War destroys the bonds that soldiers have built with their family, friends and former lives in their pre-enlistment years. War strips all the baggage of life away from the participant, leaving only the raw emotion to be endured by the soldier. Fear, hate, passion, confusion, ecstasy, love, pain, agony, delusion, delirium, aggression and death are the hot and cold impulses felt by the soldiers. This simple and basic makeup of life for the soldiers makes it too hard to adapt to the complex social nature of traditional life and as such the soldiers become alienated. Although the black and white image of the trenches is so simple in nature, it is complex in detail and soldiers find it hard to communicate to society their experiences for lack of words and language to embellish, and are further alienated from society. This alienation of soldiers through the inability of the English language to express their feelings to people other than their beloved comrades is the destruction described in the novel All Quiet On The Western Front.....

Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, set in World War I, centres around the changes wrought by the war on one young German soldier, Paul. During his time in the war, Remarque's protagonist, Paul Baumer, changes from a rather innocent youth to a hardened and somewhat caustic veteran. More importantly, during the course of this change, Paul alienates himself from the very people who encouraged him to enlist originally. Parents, elders, school and religion had been the foundation of Paul’s young days, he rejects these influences as he discoveries that the society he once lived in could not possibly understand the reality of the “Great War”. His new world then, becomes the Company, his fellow trench soldiers, because they are a group which can understand the truth of war without words, simply by experiencing it also. Remarque demonstrates Paul’s alienation from his previous world by emphasising the language barrier between Paul and his non-war relatives. Paul cannot communicate truthfully with his former life and this eventually leads to the loss...

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