Peter LeeENG IISmith11/3/17The Reality of War What glory is there in war? What purpose does war serve? In Erich Maria Remarque’s, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” through the narrative of Paul Bäumer, a 18-year-old German soldier, there are continual attacks on the “romanticized” ideals of war. “All Quiet on the Western Front,” juxtaposes the honor and nationalistic view of war to the actual reality and terror of war. To begin, Paul and his comrades were full of hope and pride for their country, but that soon ends when he faces the harsh reality of the front. Upon battle, Paul and his comrades come to the realization that war was not as it was first depicted to them to be; the endless torture, the loneliness and sacrifices. In Remarque’s, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” he shows the reality of war without any of its embellishments by portraying the theme that there is no glory, romance or heroism in war; only terror and dehumanizing violence which leads to death. This theme is conveyed by Paul’s experiences in the battlefield through his gradual realization that he was not fighting for his country—but rather for his own survival. Paul first realizes that there is no glory, romance or heroism in war when he encounters the terror and reality of the front. As Paul and his comrades all began patriotically marching off to join the army, their visions of the glories of war are soon swept away with the horror of the front and the witnessing of the death of their fellow comrades on the battlefield. Remarque only gives the reading a mere glimpse of the horror of war through his gruesome imagery of the front. To the soldiers, “the front is a cage,” (101) where they “have become wild beasts… defending themselves against annihilation” (103). Paul and his comrades are fighting only for their own survival and have been transformed into animal-like beasts. Remarque illustrates that the soldiers on the front fight not for the glory of their nation but rather for their own survival; they kill to keep from being killed. Paul had enlisted only because the “older generation” had convinced them. Paul is seduced into joining the army by nationalistic ideas by many such as Kantorek (former teacher) and Himmelstoss (non-commissioned training officer). Paul and his friends “trusted them” and “the idea of authority, which they represented was associated in our mind with a greater insight and a more humane wisdom. But the first dearth they saw shattered this belief… The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces” (12). Paul explains how the older generation have betrayed them about the glories of war, by leaving out the horrors of war, filling the young men with lies. Furthermore, Remarque depicts the misconception of the war of those not fighting in it as they are unable to understand the reality of the war. For example, Paul’s father cannot comprehend the fact that the uniform means more than loyalty, bravery, and honor and “would rather Paul keep his uniform on so that he could take Paul to visit his acquaintances” (164). He wants is blinded by their pride and confidence that they can not visualize the war’s devastating effects of the soldiers, asking Paul to “tell him about the front.” Paul says that his father “is curious in a way that I find stupid and distressing; I no longer have any real contact with him” (165). Paul’s father represents all of society obliviousness to the fact that there is no glory, romance or heroism in war.

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