All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Summary

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front gives an account of the sad reality that young soldiers face during war.Remarque’swriting differs from the traditional way in which writers and readers view wars through rose-tinted glasses.

This book knits together the politics of war, violence, diversity and understanding, terror as well the mental situations of troops. A major character in the book is Paul Baumer, he is a 19 year old German soldier sent to battle in France. This was during the World War 1. The society praised Paul and his fellow combatants; however, Paul realized that the terror resulting fromwar surpassed the glory and hype from the society (Remarque 15).

Remarque describes the harsh situations that the soldiers face during war.  These include seeking refuge in ditches and severe casualties. Anecdotes in the book also shed light on mental traumassoldiers underwent, searching for food and trying to avoid injuries (Remarque 240).

In his conversation with his allies, Paul tells us how the war began. It sprouted from the unthinking of old and senseless politicians. The politicians were arrogant and were preoccupied with political entanglements as well as power that the war could bring as opposed to the resulting life loss (Remarque 58).

Some gross accounts in Remarque’s writing include an injury that exposes Haie’s lung, rats making a feast of dead soldiers’ bodies, Mueller fails to survive a gunshot in the stomach and Kat dying of a gunshot in the head while in Paul’s arms (Remarque 144).

Paul suffers trauma after the war and thinks of committing suicide. Remarque’s points out how the experiences of war make soldiers suppress or forget, altogether, any emotions. It is the old people who make political decisions but it is inherent upon the young (soldiers) to go to the battle field (Remarque 242).

Critique

            All Quiet on the Western Front received massive sales and popularity. On the flipside, it was not spared by critics. The book was banned, and even burned, and described as a literary betrayal of the World War 1 soldiers. The Nazis also banned the book because they were against any account that might put to question theidea of the German soldier. The German soldier was a symbol of bravery, national glory and love of their land (Barker and Last 32-33).

It is not only the Nazi’s who object Remarque’s account of the war. Dr. Karl Kroner critiques how Remarque portrays the medical personnel as uncaring, absent and inattentive (Barker and Last 36). Dr. Kroner thought that the book would perpetuate the German stereotypes abroad at a whole new level yet the stereotypes had subsided after World War 1. He argued that people abroad will think that the German doctors who could not help their fellow countrymen would be brutal to helpless prisoners who were in their hands (Barker and Last 37).

In the military hospital, there was a fellow patient of Remarque’s who criticized the negative portrayal of the patients, the nuns and the soldiers in general. According to this patient, there were soldiers who were primarily dedicated to providing protection to the house, homestead and family. It is the will to provide protection to their homeland that motivated them to endure the extremities of war (Barker and Last 37-38).

One major artistic criticism was that Remarque’s account was an attempt to capture the sentiments of the pub.............


Type: Essay || Words: 1234 Rating || Excellent

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