In the book, All Quiet on the western front. The author paints the picture of a young serviceman named Paul Baumer and a few of his friends that enroll into the German army full of patriotism and pride but are unaware of the effects that World War One will have on them.
For Paul Baumer and his friends, it doesn’t take them long to realize what they’ve gotten themselves into. After a two-week stint on the battlefront, Paul and his army company only made it back to base with eighty out of the one hundred and fifty men that they started with after being attacked on the last day of their mission. It all began to go downhill for Paul and his friends from there, after losing one of their friends (Joseph Behm) early on in the war to a gunshot wound to the eye.
They begin to grow hatred for their old schoolmaster Kantorek, as they feel that he was the one who guided and pressured them into joining the army and now they’re having to go through the scary transition from school to war at nineteen years old. But they couldn’t put all the blame on Kantorek for their pledge to join the army. It was mainly due to the massive outbreak of nationalism going on at the time where young men felt pressured into joining the army or else being somewhat excluded from society if they didn’t join.
A little later on in the book, Paul begins to explain that for all the young serviceman that joined the army including himself that it feels as if their lives have been cut off from them because they were just beginning the best times of their life. And goes on to say that at least the older men who are in the army have wives, families, jobs to look forward to if they make it back home alive. At this point, the war has taken control of the young soldiers’ minds mentally, making them question what the end may be since they feel they don’t have much to live for besides going back home to their parents.
To these soldiers, this war is not for them. Meaning that they feel like there shouldn’t even be any armies in the first place. Kat, one of Paul’s friends, even said: Give’em all the same grub and all the same pay and the war would be over and done in a day (Remarque 41). And Kropp, on the other hand, believes that a declaration war should be a popular festival where the ministers and generals of the two countries fight it out with clubs dressed in their underwear.
As the men got together to discuss what life will be like after the war is over. Albert went on to say that The war has ruined us for everything (Remarque 87). For Paul and all of his friends that are around the same age, they are confused and are lost with the fact that they have no idea what’s to come for them in the future if this war is ever over.
After the long vigorous battle with the French in the trenches, Paul is starting to feel sorrow as he realizes the toll that this war has put not only on him but his friends. And that his life before the war and his desires for the future will never come true now because his life has been ruined by the trenches. While this war in the trenches was coming to an end, Paul is now all alone as he is the only one still alive out of his comrades from his platoon. From the start, these young men knew that the horrors of this war were going to take over their lives. Both mentally and physically.
In this novel, the author portrayed a group of the young serviceman that joined the German army at the age of nineteen and were thrown into a war that they didn’t want it any part of. But decided to join the army due to the pressure from the rise of nationalism in the country and from their schoolmaster. Throughout their battles in the trenches, Paul and his friends feel as if they lost everything that they once had and the world that they were once living in before they joined the army is gone as well.
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