Free Essay

Western Front

In: English and Literature

Submitted By rabia303
Words 1912
Pages 8
WAR LITERATURE ASSIGNMENT

ON

PAUL BAUMER’S CHARACTER AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ‘LOST GENERATION’ IN REMARQUE’S NOVEL, ALL QUIET ON THE WEATERN FRONT

All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The novel is about the experiences of ordinary German soldiers during the war. It is based on Remarque’s own experiences at war which enabled him to capture the realism and authenticity needed to exemplify the feelings of a soldier. Through the novel he was able to capture the feeling of seclusion and loneliness among the soldiers. In 1916, he was drafted into the German army to fight in World War I, in which he was badly wounded. In 1926, after the war ended, he published Im Westen Nichts Neues which he later translated into English as All Quiet on the Western Front. The novel has been heralded by critics throughout the world as the greatest war novel of all time. It helped capture every thought that went through a soldier’s mind who belonged to the "lost generation".

War changes life. Conditioned by the aggression and lifestyle of being a soldier, young adult Paul Baumer in Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front, over the course of four years, changed from a naive high school graduate to a mature but disillusioned adult. The violence and trauma in the trenches of World War I exposed Paul to the horrors of injuries and infections, the fragile state of life, the terrors of death and dying, and the unbearable feeling of being isolated from friends and family. Through experiencing Kemmerich’s tragic death, going on break, and finally witnessing French soldier Gerard Duval’s death, young Paul matures from an anxious and excited teenager to a shattered and devastated but humane adult.

Paul is not only a famous war hero and a famous writer but also a regular old Joe with a family at home in a cute little German village. He likes to drink beer and think about girls, and, when he was home, he was in the process of writing a play called Saul – he likes to write and tell stories. He is been to school and he likes to read books, but he is too young to have had any major life experiences before enlisting in the war. He is a typical teenage boy – excited for his future, but still naive to certain things in life. That is, until the war changes everything and makes him an expert in death. Because of the horrors of the war and the anxiety it includes, Paul, like the other soldiers learns to disconnect his mind from his feelings, keeping his emotions at bay in order to preserve his sanity and survive.

To survive such a gruesome war, Paul must disconnect his artistic and poetic inner self from his outer, gun-toting, animalistic self. It is his need to suppress his emotion in his storytelling. For example, instead of writing diary entry about how sad he is to lose Albert Kropp, he simply writes that he had to leave his friend. He fights battles, plays pranks, gets injured, goes home, makes friends, loses loved ones, leads men, and eventually dies a death that is painted as relief. Paul needs to kill his soft, kind, inner self in order to continue to survive. Paul is dead before he has physically died. This is also emphasized in the epigraph to the book: "This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.”

Lost Generation in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque shows how the soldiers in World War I are disillusioned and surrounded by human suffering. Surrounded by death and suffering, the soldiers lose interest in war. The war slowly shapes the attitudes and thoughts of the soldiers toward going home. The lost generation was formed by the constant isolation, violence and disillusionment of the German soldiers of World War I. The novel illustrates the isolation the men must endure in battle causing them to lose their ambition for a good life, resulting in a lost generation. When the Paul Baumer and his classmates had no idea about the world, they joined the Army and were sent off to fight. No one back home knows what the war is like; and the soldiers do not seem to remember what home is like either. Even when Paul returns home on leave, he feels isolated from the world. He is uncomfortable about being away from his friends and uncomfortable talking to the people in his hometown because he feels like an outsider. Paul remembers his life at home when he had goals and when he strived for doing good in school to get a job. His high hopes and dreams were destroyed by the war."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 in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war." Paul and the rest of the soldiers have lost interest in civilian life. The noises of men crying for help when wounded and the calm silence of the dead, mixed with the sounds of shelling and gun fire causes the men to realize that war is their life. All Paul knows is war and there now is no way does he feels he can return and live the normal life he had planned.

Paul is a reflection of his friends in many ways. They are all examples of "good young men" who are trying to follow their morals and ideals and do what is right with the talents they've been given. There is essentially never any conflict among the friends; they behave as almost one unified body. In fact Paul's friends are his reason for living. Even when he goes on leave at home he misses his wartime "family." By the end of the novel, Paul is the only one among his circle of friends still living – he has watched nearly all of his friends Kemmerich, Muller, Kropp, Kat, Bertinck disappear. Each death affects him in a different way, tearing something of his humanity away from him. When all of his friends have died, Paul doesn't have anything left to live for.

Paul is completely devoted to his mother and when he is before her, he crumbles emotionally. He cannot forget how much she has sacrificed so that he might live a full and healthy life. His mother is sick with cancer and is about to die. He feels himself emotionally changed from naive boy into hardened soldier. Her sickness indicates to him that there is no peace for him on earth. Paul's father, however, is insensitive, and uncaring. His core focus is showing off Paul to his friends so that Paul can tell glamorous battlefield stories for their entertainment. In Paul's mind, the retelling of such horrible tales lessens the honor of the men who died, making them objects. He appears to simply tolerate his father. Kat is a father figure to Paul as he takes the role of mentor and friend in Paul's life. He is a leader, helping Paul learn how to cope with the war.

Paul is ready to do anything for Kat. When he is wounded one summer day, Paul binds his wound and then carries him though the storm of gunfire to the nearest makeshift hospital. Paul puts his own life on the line so that he might save the life of his closest friend. When he realizes that a shrapnel splinter has hit the back of Kat's head and that Kat has died, Paul is devastated. Not long after this incident Paul dies. Kat is among the last of Paul's friends to be killed, so without him, Paul has little meaning to give his life.

Paul has a demurring, unvengeful way of thinking about clueless authority figures that make his life miserable: Kantorek, Himmelstoss, and the major he runs into in his village who makes him salute and march. Paul treats all of them with a passive aggressive respect, just enough respect to get past them and move on. Paul does not aspire to being authority; he is painted as a passive human being, with few goals other than "animalistically" surviving another day.

Paul learns that he is part of a ruined generation, a lost generation. As a young man in his late teens, he begins the war with lots to live for. All he knows are his schoolbooks, his family, his hometown, and his love of writing. He still has a lot to learn and see of the world. War scares that desire and hunger for knowledge away. As a soldier Paul learns how to kill and, more importantly, how not to be killed. He hopes to be a writer and to uncover the realities of the war, realities of which were downplayed by German politicians and newspapers. When the novel ends, Paul has learned that the war has robbed him of his future. He dies soon after this realization hits.

All Quiet on the Western Front expresses how innocent young boys lost their lives at the hands of men who controlled the war and had no understanding of the horrors and devastation that they were creating. It is hard to conclude to what became of the lost generation. The whole of All Quiet on the Western Front is facts based on a series of antithesis's which reflect various levels of alienation in the minds of the small but dwindling band of comrades.

Paul’s experience is intended to represent the experience of a whole generation of men, the so-called lost generation—men who went straight from childhood to fighting in World War I, often as adolescents. Paul frequently considers the past and the future from the perspective of his entire generation, noting that, when the war ends, he and his friends will not know what to do, as they have learned to be adults only while fighting the war. The longer that Paul survives the war and the more that he hates it, the less certain he is that life will be better for him after it ends. This anxiety arises from his belief that the war will have ruined his generation, will have so eviscerated his and his friend’s minds that they will always be “bewildered.” Against such depressing expectations, Paul is relieved by his death: “his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.” The war becomes not merely a traumatic experience or a hardship to be endured but something that actually transforms the essence of human existence into irrevocable, endless suffering. The war destroys Paul long before it kills him.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. Erich Maria Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front, London: Putnam & Company Ltd, 1970

2. Patrick Clardy: All Quiet on the Western Front: Reception, Yale Modernism Lab, 3 June 2013

3. Modris Eksteins: All Quiet on the Western Front and the fate of war, Journal of Contemporary History (SAGE publication), April 1980

4. http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/99526.html

5. http://beckster1138.tripod.com/quiet.htm

6. http://m.sparknotes.com/lit/allquiet/canalysis.html

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

The Effects Of Trenches On The Western Front

...Trenches were long narrow ditches that were dug into the ground where some soldiers lived day and night. Only a small proportion of the army would serve there. The trenches were the domain of the infantry, with the supporting arms of the mortars and machine guns. The trenches were built in the front line or in any sort of dangerous places. But behind them was a mass of supply lines, training establishments, stores, workshops, headquarters and all the other elements of the 1914-1918 system of war, in which the majority of troops were employed. Frontline trenches were usually seven feet deep and six feet wide. The conditions for the soldiers in the war were very risky. Death was a constant companion to those who were serving in the front line...

Words: 677 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

All Quiet On The Western Front Rhetorical Analysis

...All Quiet On The Western Front is a book about a boy named Paul and all his challenging experiences from World War I. The war changed his outlook on all perspectives of life. The war changed him as a person, and not for the good. In All Quiet On The Western Front, it tells the story of a young man, Paul Baumer, and his experiences of World War I. Paul fought voluntarily in the German army at the age of 19. His friend Kemmerich has his leg amputated and is slowly dying, so Paul takes his boot to Muller, as he requested. Paul’s crew gets involved in a gruesome battle with infantrymen. The battle was very terrifying, the men’s bodies were being blown apart and giant rats ate the remains of all the men. After the battle, Paul and...

Words: 915 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

All Quiet On The Western Front Research Paper

...War does not determines who is right, only who is left. In All Quiet on the Western Front, a historical war novel, by Erich Maria Remarque, war is described realistically and losses were revealed. Earth and nature play huge roles among the wars; they both have opposite uses. For example, earth is both protection and danger as they seek refuge in it down within the trenches as the shells explode on the surface of it. As Paul travels through the horror and destruction of war, he realized the comfort brought to him by nature. Earth might not have an significant effect in our lives, however, it has great impacts on soldiers. The earth shields exterior forces and acts as an protection, yet it is a battlefield where soldiers lose their lives. When Paul and his friends were preparing for a bombardment and hiding from possible attack, he realized...

Words: 687 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

All Quiet On The Western Front Essay

...During the time of World War I, being a soldier was seen as a very noble thing due to the glorification of war. All Quiet on the Western Front shows life on the battlefield during WWI, as well the effects and influences off the battlefield. The protagonist of the film, Paul Bäumer is a young German soldier who joins the war shortly after finishing high school. Paul and other young soldiers are trained in harsh conditions and learn the basics of combat. Once they enter the war Paul and other soldiers see what life is truly like on the battlefield. When he goes onto the front for the first time he learns of the travesty that is war and it is not how his teacher’s have described it. Many of the soldiers’ die or are wounded and left in the harsh conditions of the hospitals. When Paul goes home for the first time he returns a changed man. His father wants him to wear his uniform because he should be proud that he is a soldier, but Paul refuses to, knowing that war is nothing to be proud of. World War I is known as the first industrial war. New inventions and weapons added to the impersonality of war. Instead of having to fight with the enemy face-to-face, soldiers were able to shoot their rifles or throw poison gas. Because of the impersonality of war, the scene where Paul kills a man while...

Words: 587 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

All Quiet on the Western Front Review

...Meredith Cheyenne Professor Brillman EUH 2030 August 30, 2014 All Quiet on the Western Front All quiet on the western front is said to be the greatest war novel of all time. Written by Erich Remarque, this novel is set in the early 1900’s during World War 1. It is told in the voice of Paul Baumer, a young German soldier who joins the war to fight on the French front. We follow the events of Paul’s life during the war as well as his group of comrades with whom he lives and learns. While Paul and his friends once entered the war with a child-like innocence, they are quickly shaken with the realistic and painful lives that they are living. They learn to understand the brutality of the war that they are in and that maybe “to die for one’s country” is not as sweet an honorable as they once thought. Throughout the book, there is a constant theme of war and the difficulties of it. It is up to the reader to decipher if they consider the novel to be pro- or anti-war. The book begins at suppertime after coming back from the front lines. Out of their company of 150 men to have gone with them, only 80 returned. Paul and his comrades believed that the extra rations that had been prepared should be dispersed among the remaining men. It is here that we first meet some of Paul’s comrades in war. There is Mueller, Kropp, and Katczinsky. Mueller is said to have been the more realistic one of the group. He sees the war for what it really is and his observance seems to foreshadow the loss...

Words: 1477 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front

...Incapacitated of viewing a future or remembering a past, soldiers soon only believed in war. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque depicts his gruesome experience of the war through the despairing narration...

Words: 1554 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

All Quiet on the Western Front Essay

...The War’s Effect’s Towards Soldiers World War I was one of the most significant wars in U.S. history. It was significant because it created a gateway for new tactics, weapons, and it carved the way for a whole new style of warfare. In the book All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, Paul Baumer, the main character, and his comrades go through horrifying experiences that affect them both physically and mentally. Throughout the book Paul shows how war is a dehumanizing experience, but he continues to find ways to make him more human by appreciating the little things that he didn’t notice before his previous war experiences. Throughout the war Paul witnesses things that make him more empathetic and compassionate. These specific war experiences have influenced Paul in both negative and positive ways. For example when Paul comes to realize that the Russian prisoners are suffering he suddenly shows sympathy towards them by, “I take out my cigarettes break each one in half and give them to the Russians.” (194) As Paul overlooks the violence and fighting of the war he realizes that the so called “enemy” is just another man fighting for the same reason as he is. Paul now has a new outlook on the war and he is showing a very unexpected sensitive side, which is most definitely him being “human”. During the intensity of the war Paul was holding nothing back while being in battle with the men shooting at them with no feelings or regret. As Paul now looks at the......

Words: 1016 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

All Quiet On The Western Front Analysis

...Quiet On The Western Front was written by Erich Remarque about a young adult whose generation was essentially obliterated. After being in the frontlines for the Central Powers in World War I, Remarque saw how destroyed his generation was and wrote a work of realistic fiction that was based on his own experiences of fighting on the side of the germans. Soon, Remarque created a resounding story dealing with how the war had destroyed a generation of children. Remarque is far from accusing and does an excellent job of not exaggerating the horror of war. An example of this is when the boys are talking about how Kemmerich's “…leg is amputated. He looks ghastly, yellow, and wan,” (7). That is, sadly, just how the war was; it was gruesome and risky. World War I was just over 100 years ago, and one of the last wars where amputation was a common practice. People forget this happened, that often people got amputated to be saved. Remarque has given us straight up facts of what the conditions were, and doesn’t accuse war of anything. The author also strays from exaggeration how the war was. Some of the appeal to the novel is being able to vicariously live through Paul, without much more detail than “someone shot him point blank in the...

Words: 618 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Analysis: All Quiet On The Western Front

...“War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.”-Karl Kraus. The novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, displays how the brutality of war continues to affect generations of soldiers. The horrors war can cause are timeless. Remarque shows this by writing about how war causes suffering not only towards the family of soldiers, but to soldiers themselves. He describes how when back home after the war, soldiers feel out of place. He also talks about how war brings out the worst in people and how it affects the mental/emotional health of soldiers. The lives of sons, daughters, parents and friends are lost for the purpose of what? War. The effects these losses can cause are seen when Maria Remarque states, “I must go and see Kemmerich's mother. I cannot write that down. This quaking, sobbing woman who shakes me and cries out on me: "Why are you living then, when he is dead?"--who drowns me in tears and calls out: "What are you there for at all, child, when you --"--who drops into a chair and wails: "Did you see him?...

Words: 1076 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Character Analysis: All Quiet On The Western Front

...During the 1900’s, war was often romanticized. When a man went off to war they were viewed as a hero for being patriotic and defending their country. Most people thought they would come out of war as a better man because of what they were told. However they did not know what they were in for. In the book, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque the negative effects of war on an individual are shown. The main character, Paul Bäumer, is a soldier during World War I. The reader can see what the war has done to him and his comrades. In the beginning of the story, Paul explains how war has changed the lives of him and his comrades forever. He says, “We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces...we believe in such things no longer. We believe in war” (pg. 87-88). Paul has explained that his generation...

Words: 766 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

All Quiet on the Western Front

...“All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque is not merely a novel itself, but an honest picture of the devastating war to its every corner. Throughout the story, all characters undergo continuous changes, from their appearances to their personalities, from their actions to their thoughts, from their previous lives to the brutal present. As a result, a man coming out of the war turns into a different person as he adapts to the changes. This general idea embraces the whole story and links the details together. Most of the soldiers in the story are Paul’s comrades. Despite their different backgrounds, they are all young and just standing at the threshold of life when they are pushed into the war. In their pre-war lives, they were taught at school about the mind, literature, and other subjects. They strived for freedom and happiness. For such a long period of over 10 years, they were surrounded by teachers, friends and the culture, which were important and had great impression over our men. However, on coming to the training system, they are now taught in the army with guns. They put an end to all dreams and habits. The only things that matter are drill and more drill, boot brush and surviving in the harsh system. Specifically, the narrator, Paul, used to write a play and a bunch of poems earlier, which indicates that he has an artistic mind and a sense to melody and rhythm. Sadly after being trained for the war, not only does he stop writing and composing, but he......

Words: 648 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

All Quiet on the Western Front

...the feeling many of the soldiers had in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. The camaraderie felt between the soldiers was quite evident throughout this piece of work. One connection that was immense throughout the book was the main character and narrator, Paul’s feelings toward Kaczynski (Kat), a fellow soldier and great friend. Paul’s relationship with Kat only seems to grow, creating a special bond as the novel progressed. From comforting Paul after his first hand to hand combat to simply being a friend to rely on, Kat was always by Paul’s side. Kat had an amazing impact on Paul during his time at war and on leave. When Paul was released for his short leave in Chapter 9, Paul couldn’t help but feel like he was out of place once he arrived back home. Paul realized he had changed as a person and was worried about his fellow comrades fighting on the battlefield. He often longed to return to the war so he could be back with his friends. When he arrived back however, he felt different. “I have an uneasy conscience when I look at them, and yet without any good reason” (89). He found his confidence when he was with Kat and felt that is where he belonged, fighting along side him. Kat always had a way of comforting Paul, and even though he did not want to seem childish, Paul looked up to Kat. This bond kept Paul strong and ready for anything. While fighting on the front, Paul resumed an...

Words: 650 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

All Quiet On The Western Front Character Analysis Essay

...In the war novel All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Paul Baumer is a very significant character. Paul is a character that conveys Remarque’s experiences and point of view to the readers. Paul and his friends are faced with the intensity of the war, which causes them to disconnect their feelings and lose their emotions. Soon, Pauls lifestyle is shaped to be around war. The war diminished Paul and turned his life into constant suffering. Paul’s character undergoes a changes throughout the novel, when he is induced with the horror and anxiety of the war. Paul Baumer is a character representative of all soldiers because he faces the same difficulties a typical soldier would face. In the war, Paul had seen his close friends...

Words: 901 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

"All Quiet on the Western Front" Juxtaposition Essay

...All Quiet on the Western Front Juxtaposition Essay In any war, there are two separate and shockingly different perspectives: that of the warrior, and that of the average citizen. To those not actually fighting, casualties might seem simply a number while to the soldiers, they are a constant reminder of the price their friends, brothers and more often than not themselves are willing to pay for the protection of their country. In Erich Remarque's revolutionary novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque shows the world what is really like to fight a war. By juxtaposing seemingly polar opposites, Remarque shows the reality of war. Remarque weaves a substantial amount of war imagery into All Quiet on the Western Front, using this technique to further exhibit the appalling realities of war. Though all the general public might see is that a soldier has been injured, Remarque vividly describes how that injury came to be, saying, "His hip is covered with blood...If he has been hit in the stomach, he oughtn't to drink anything. There's no vomiting, that's a good sign. We lay the hip bare. It is one mass of mincemeat and bone splinters. The joint has been hit. This lad won't walk anymore" (68). Using graphic and striking adjectives, Remarque brings the reader into what a common soldier's train of thought in times of great stress. Due to the fact that Remarque's main character Paul is in the middle of a battle, his thoughts are few, though precise. Writing sections of a......

Words: 640 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Erich Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front

...Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front was revolutionary in how it spoke not about the glory and honor of war, but instead the cruel, dark reality of it. World War I was very different than any other war that had come before it through the combination of the number of large, powerful countries fighting in it and new, innovative fighting techniques that came about. In this novel, Remarque wrote about reality; the complete destruction that comes with war and how nationalism was used to trick men, but the themes and ideas of this novel still stand true today and it should not be forgotten. World War I was completely different than any other war the world had seen so far, it was gruesome and violent; the majority of this novel follows...

Words: 1146 - Pages: 5