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All Quiet on the Western Front

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Tabitha Forms in Literature

September 27, 2004 Period 11

All Quiet on the Western Front


A lost generation, emotional destruction, the reality of war, these are all ideas displayed in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front that prove the validity of the statement in the preface. These ideas and more expressed by the author, Erich Maria Remarque, present the reader with the war novel of a lifetime. A war novel that is different from any other because of these ideas and the way Remarque presents them.

A generation of young men was fresh out of school with the world at their fingertips, but they realized it was their duty to enlist in the war and have lost the innocence of youth because of it. They became a lost generation because, as is stated in the preface, they were, "A generation of men who, even though they may have escaped the shells, were destroyed by the war. The young men had to deal with their friends dying at only the age of seventeen, something none of them could ever have been prepared to endure. For instance, when Paul watches Kemmerich die in the hospital he has to come face to face with death and destruction. This generation of men in the war was forced to mature faster than the rest of their peers. They had to kill or be killed in the trenches and were attacked by men not much different from himself. For example, Paul feels bad about killing the French printer and says, "Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too." (Remarque, 223)

The war destroyed the men emotionally, enough so that they were not able to return to normal after the war. When Paul is on leave he is not interested in everyday things he used to enjoy like reading books and plays. He thinks to himself the night before his leave is up, "I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless---I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end."(Remarque, 185) The war has shattered their human spirit, and they began to feel there was no reason to go on. The soldiers had to ignore their emotions or else be destroyed by them. The killing of the French printer haunts Paul, "This dying man has time with him, he has an invisible dagger with which he stabs me: Time and my thoughts." (Remarque, 221)

Remarque portrays the war in a very real way. Other war novels have tried to lighten the mood



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