All Quiet on the Western Front Analysis: Remarque’s Exploration of War’s Human Toll

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Rachel Areche, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque

Author Erich Maria Remarque wrote the novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” depicting a true war story. In which the main purpose of the book is to highlighting the events and how it impacts the people involved. Contrasting from other books that dealt with the war showing the victories and the bright side. Most book out try to show how the villains lose and how the victims are then free but in war it’s everyone for the,selves until the war is then over. Unlike typical wars in this book the soldiers are not hired they themselves enlisted in the war. The protagonist, Paul states that his mates and himself do not see it as a duty more like a hobby, not forced. Not to say that war is just a hobby to them they do have to face with the reality and hardships that also come with it. Others that didn’t do the same are shamed by society for not being as brave as these boys and going on their own free will. Although they must face struggles there is still the pride of showing off how they did so good; as shown in the following citation, “ We had fancied our task would be different, only to find we were to be trained for heroism as though we were circus ponies.”

To begin, there is a difference in tone all thought the text. For example it states at first, “ He plays mostly folk songs and the others hum with him… the sound of the violin stands like a slender girl above it and is clear and alone.” (29) It’s strange how Paul’s tone could stay positive after all he is going through in the war. Another instance of tone would be when in “ All Quiet on the Western Front” states, “ The life that has borne me through these years is still in my hands and my eyes… seeks its own way out, heedless of the will that is written me.” (100) Paul knows what are his desires and he won’t settle for less, and speaks his tires and little to no words.

The book also includes a symbolism and imagery. In this novel it shows how a river can have a deeper meaning when Paul and his friends use it as a division between themselves and the real world that lays outside of the War. Just like a river might divided a nation or people in this book it seems like that same water leads to something much beyond it. Water also plays an important role later on in the book because Earth is made up of water and for times like War it’s really useful.

The novel starts with focused on the characters outermost experience, painting a picture to the readers of the harsh reality of war. Shortly, moving on to the Paul’s internal experience, breaking down into his emotional individual and how his mind is filled with confusion and blank space. Comparing to what he once was before the war, the only way to manage now is by pulling apart his feelings and for using on the task that lays ahead. Paul’s emotions is only one point of view thought, one must remember that their are other men who might feel the same or even more like Paul and it’s sad to say that those emotions are not talked about. This demonstrates how the problems being faced are lessening the fact of humankind.

Another example of this is when the doctor simply doesn’t want to help another soldier due to how much tragic body’s he has seen already. The pain that is shown for the doctor mentally and physically for the soldier, Kemmerich. The author is then opening the idea that war doesn’t only affect soldiers but others that have to surround themselves with this idea. The mind and thought process that is risky for the ones involved as though they aren’t in danger enough. His death is then looked upon due to the fact that with or without one men the war must go on and the soldiers are trained to not have emotions when something that this occurs. In the text it states, “ Under the skin the life no longer pulses, it has already pressed out to the boundaries of the body. Death is working through from already has command… yet it is not he any longer.” (72) Paul is not unfamiliar from the death so he knows that his friend is slow but surely dying.

Sadism is a when a person or thing gets pleasure off of causing someone pain or seeing one else suffer. This comes into play when Kat’s talks about the cruel ranking of the military and its effect on the soldiers. War just isn’t harmful when it comes to shooting and getting hurt on the battlefield. But the people that surround you and the ones who are in fact indirect enemies.

In “All Quiet in the Western Front” it states, “ Returning to the barracks he had to go along a dark, uninhabited road. There we waited for him behind piles of stones… door flew open and he bawled.” (66) Showing how sometimes the pressure and stress from bully’s can drive soldiers to do crazy and things they they wouldn’t want to in the end. In general there is always someone is is higher than the other person when it comes to everything. Typically no one sees it as a big deal until it’s too late and something ends up back fighting.

One of the most memorable scenes of the novel was the men’s ride. It’s like actually watching a movie when the intense part is about to come up and you can just see it happening but the ones in the movie can’t.The way the bomb attacks are described in great detail and how it so close to home having to see this transpired. In the text it states,“We have to go on wiring fatigue. The motor lorries roll up. We climb in.” This may seem like a simple sentence but the way the author uses “have to” shows the seriousness of the situation. Even more intensity comes to part when the book states, “The engines drone, the lorries bump and rattle”.(12)The words used in the text are to add the feeling as though you can touch the book and you are intensely inside the war.

An odd conclusion is drawn by Paul referring to the soldier’s connection with the planet. To them it’s all they have, it’s like family that they don’t have with them at the moment. A comparison to animals is made and how they depend on the earth for food and other supplies. He goes in dept to say that this war isn’t fought for patriotism, even though he volunteered but to survive. Going back to how his feelings of a human change to the feelings of an animal. At the same time animal still have emotions, so yes the soldier are compared to animals but in reality it’s worse than animals because these are humans who before these weren’t shown these.

The idea of how men like Paul, younger men didn’t get much out of live . Entering war right after school and how they must not have anything besides the war to depend on, as to comparing someone who is much older and has for example a home, wife and children. The writer shows within the men that there isn’t a world outside of war, that the war might never end. As the soldier try to envisioned there life before the war they still somehow find a way to talk about war. Then thinking about the future is just giving them false hope and they can only for us on not dying and just trying to make it another day.

Paul and his mates make a point when discussing the idea that war makes men who are low life’s want power and dominate people. Bring the third impact of war on a soldier, it makes people have to watch out for themselves even if you are in a team. Creating this bully and nerd type of environment which isn’t healthy ; making it another challenge soldier need to face with during the war. For example this novel is a normal war story, just like the movie a Full Metal Jacket. Where at some point one soldier has had enough of his commanding officer pushing him around so much that he needed up killing him.

War is now explained into more detail the real meaning on what these soldiers were actually trying to do. They wanted the enemies to get weaker so that maybe the war would just end. It’s like the emotions the soldiers carry, they fight but in the end they want it to end although they must not show that. In the novel it states, “ we want to live at any price; so we can not burden ourselves with feelings which, though they might be ornamented enough in peace time, would be out of place here.” (60) The soldier had to stop all the imagination due to the fact that they needed to have their mind focus on no getting killed. Not only that but when things like war occur soldiers tend to have flashbacks and periods where everything stops. It’s surreal but in combat it’s very known for trying to cope and reflect on the scene ahead.

Instead of focusing on the fact that they kill people for a living. They just overlook it as part of the job, they don’t mean to kill the enemies because of the simple fact that they aren’t on the same side. But indeed because that’s how they find ways to let go of all the emotions and anger that built from the war. It’s like an exercise relief to the soldier to kill people, no strings attached and they use humans as a punching bag.

Soldiers try not to discuss their experience out loud it would bring many harsh reality. To people in the war talking to ones who aren’t physically there is worth nothing. Due to the fact that it’s just a you have to be there moment for you to understand the harsh reality that one must go through. Also the fact that they are built to not have emotions unlike others that aren’t and must hear stories like this. Like trying to explain a war story to so,eon who isn’t there is proven very difficult. It not adding more details basically lies it would not get the people to really understand what is it that you are going through and that’s not what soldier want. They want to be able to show the truth of what’s going on in their minds.

Paul’s emotions are shown when a Russian prisoner tries to communicate with him. Showing how even though soldier aren’t supposed to show emotions it still happens anyways. Paul understand that what he is doing is “wrong” because higher ups tell him that but to him he finds it pointless. That still doesn’t take away the fact that he has a mission and must stand for that mission even if he believes otherwise. Paul is overall seen as lovable guy that’s feelings are just too much to bare with and calms that he must keep punching through. At war things like such can put a soldier in a tuff spot like at some point those emotions blockage that were once put up.

The writer doesn’t fail to add the fact that the war has made Paul a whole different person. For example the part when he goes to the hospital showing his young life. He tries to be a child when he plays a prank on the nun which is a bit different from usually scene in the book. Paul also believes that the hospital is like a book for people that want to know about what war is and how it’s like to be in one. It seems like Paul innocence is being taken from him and now he must depend on the war to show him how he must live the rest of his life.
As Paul is talking about death one sees how religion takes apart in this story. He knows that he doesn’t have faith in the future but the one thing that he must have faith on is god. To the point where he asked for protection and hope that maybe just maybe he will probably make it through.

Sometimes people at worst possible situations try to religion in order to have some type of hope it really common in modern times as well. As well as hanging on to artifacts, in the text it states, “ on the right side of the meadow a large cannon latine has been built, a well planned and durable construction… for two hours we have been without getting up.” (47) They will always hold on to their mobile toilets because it might seem like nothing but to them it’s a representation of home.

As the book goes on it’s seems to become overload with sharp irony. It seems like the soldier are coming to their final limit. Paul in fact makes a comparison to the war as a disease. It feels as though they are in jail serving a life time sentence. They themselves are coming to a realization that they are more like objects then humans. Although they kinda see the possible ending to this all but their still is the fate that they might get killed no matter what. At some point one must see when is it time to request change.

Although this whole book the wordsmith portrays the soldiers as people who just fight. In the end it seems like it was for nothing, kinda taking back the readers that Paul and the others didn’t die when flinging but during the final moments of the war. When Paul dies he is symbolized as the lostgeneration, because he is the last one out of all the other classmates. Thus, representing the el image of a whole generation. Finishing off the book was a mysterious person unlike the rest which was typically Paul.

The writer haves off the idea as to who is the most significant person in the text which brings emotion to the reader. gives us no insight as to who this impromptu narrator is or at what point in time this reflection upon the story occurs, which helps to render the story timeless.
Not to mention the odd fact that the day in which Paul died was so relaxing and payed back. That when one can see the title meaning, the fact that the German army has calmed that day “All quiet on the western Front”.

Another thing that the last few paragraph demonstrate is the fact that the end of the War has brought much peace. In the end the reader is thrown off by this sudden death and how it could all just vanished.
Thus, the book shows a clear meaning of how the war ends and how it gets to even the best of us. Going back to how this book started and how could these young boys have to die for something that they didn’t wanted or the question that we all ask why did it have to happen to them.  

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All Quiet on the Western Front Analysis: Remarque's Exploration of War's Human Toll. (2019, Aug 08). Retrieved May 30, 2024 , from

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