Honors Literature 12
All Quiet on the Western Front
May 22nd, 2013
A Soldier, A Beast
The individuals, landscape, and atmosphere that a member of society is surrounded by has an extraordinary effect on the attitude, personality, and outlook that member experiences throughout their lifetime. As that atmosphere experiences change, so does the individual. This philosophy is evident throughout the entirety of our modern, as well as past, world. Erich Maria Remarque exhibits this idea splendidly in his novel All Quiet on the Western Front by displaying the effects of a major war on a single soldier, Paul Baumer. The concept, brutality, and environment of World War I engulfs Paul and his comrades, desecrating them of any and all sensible thoughts, emotions, and attitudes.
Paul and his friends succumb to the dangers and cruelties of war. They have grown out of their old lives of new beginnings and into the life of a soldier: one of grotesque and animalistic behavior. Paul’s depiction of the world is forever altered. War causes boys to mature at an impeccable pace and corrupts their childhood to the point of no return. The common boy, at the age of nineteen and twenty, would be focused on starting a career, continue their education, or settling down with a significant other. Unfortunately these dreams are exactly that: dreams, for Paul, Kropp, Mueller, Leer and Tjaden. These five individuals are obligated by the call of their nation to concern themselves with the natural necessity: survival. When the opportunity presents itself to spend the night with a French women, Paul finds himself overcome with anxiety. Paul, Kropp and Leer swim across the river in nothing but their boots to meet three French girls across the river. To break the language barrier, the soldiers bring some food and cigarettes. Once the adrenaline wears off, Paul suddenly feels vulnerable. Paul thinks to himself, “Now nothing remains to recall for me the assurance and self-confidence of the...