Advice on my All Quiet on the Western Front essay? Thank you :)

Question 3: describe a memorable idea in a written text you have studied.
Explain why the idea was memorable to teenagers.

War corrupts the human soul. Erich Maria Remarque’s novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is a daunting representation of real life reality during war and its horrors behind it. Paul Baumer - an 18 year old German student became a soldier that fought in The First Great War in 1914. Remarque represents the significant horror of war and lost generation in his novel, and highlights them from the perspective of Paul Baumer. Symbolism is a key within this book as this identifies to the audience the trauma of war and to upset the reader.

Erich Maria Remarque was a German soldier who fought in the First Great War. Throughout ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ Remarque uses his real-life experiences that he got from The First Great War and wrote it from the point of view of Paul Baumer. His experiences were when he was in the trenches, his first killing and many more horrifying incidents from the war. On May 10th 1933, 15 years after the first World War, the NAZIS burned one of many ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ books as it portrays ‘anti-war’. Remarque’s purpose and message of his novel are the significant horrors of war and The Last Generation.

All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of 8 teenage boys in Germany 1914. Tjaden, Muller, Albert Kropp, Leer, Haie Westhus, and Paul Baumer. Each of them enrolled for The Great War after being drawn in from patriotic slogans and propaganda from their schoolmaster, Kantorek. From 1914 - 1918, the war experience for the boys had completely changed their lives forever, unable to go back to their civilised life. This is because in order to survive, they have to become something they are not, a savage with animalistic behaviours. A quote which explains this is “I don’t even know myself anymore.” The boys are dehumanised. They have to become dehumanised in order to function/survive at war. Remarque identifies many symbolic meanings throughout ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to show the reader that war is more than just death.

One example of The Horror of War is when Paul goes home. Paul Baumer is granted a 17- day leave permit. He goes home to visit his family, only to receive news that his mother is severely ill. This makes Paul feel like a stranger while he is back home with his family, questioning his sense of reality while he’s home. Remarque contrasts the beauty of the countryside with the horror of the trenches. Paul feels disconnected back home in Germany, he doesn’t fit in or feel at ease. His Mother asks him if was “very bad out there.” Paul is hesitant to be honest about the truth with his experiences at war to his mother. Paul cannot tell his family what is really going on in the trenches- it’s too horrific. Paul doesn’t know how to tell them either, if he is to tell them the truth it would upset his family. Paul’s going home experience also fits the theme of The Lost Generation because life at home cannot be compared to war, which he considers to be his normality. He is used to battling combat. Remarque uses this situation to recognise that Paul is majorly disconnected from his old life, this how much war has completely changed him.

Also during Paul’s leave, his dad is demanding him to wear his uniform so he feels proud and shows off his successes. Paul is so traumatised from what war has done to him and refuses to wear his uniform. The uniform isn’t something for Paul to be proud of, it shows his savage aspect of himself and the truth of what war truly is. The uniform is a symbol of war and it represents death and destruction. Remarques purpose for Paul refusing to wear his uniform is that war has changed him completely and he is no longer the average 18 year old teenage boy he once used to be. Once a soldier wears the uniform, “A man is basically a beast.” Remarque is emphasising that the war brings out the worst in them. Wearing the uniform shows off their animalistic features. In order for the soldiers to survive, they have to become a savage with a lack of emotion. Paul, even his friends, is experiencing a trauma called PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder which causes a characteristic failure in trying to recover from a bad experience. In Paul’s case he cannot overcome the trauma war has done to himself, it left him in a state of his experience being unforgettable and traumatising. PTSD symbolises the horror of war, the soldiers are too traumatised to forget about what has happened.

Another example of Remarque portraying The Horror of War is the moment Paul kills Gerard DuVal. After Paul shelters himself in a shell hole while he waits for the war to calm down, a French soldier- who goes by the name Gerard DuVal falls into the shell hole with Paul. In shock of Paul being face-to- face with his combat, he stabs Gerard with his knife. Paul is filled with incredible guilt and caves in to help Gerard by aiding him with water and attempting to clean his wound. Unfortunately Gerard dies next to Paul. After Paul comprehends what he has just done he says, “It is only now that I can see that you are a human being like me.” Remarque is saying that all combats have a shared humanity. Gerard DuVal is Paul’s first face-to-face encounter with someone he has killed. Maybe for the first time he realises that all of his enemies are just like him, they have hopes, fears, dreams, even families. Paul will never be able to forget this moment. Remarque uses this experience for Paul to let the reader know during The Great War, every soldier and enemy were not faceless. They all had a future filled with hopes, dreams, ambitions. This however also relates to the horror of war because the men would do anything in order to survive.

This novel is very significant in the real world today, mainly for the impact of teenagers and older from the Russia vs Ukraine war; which is currently an ongoing war. Before the war, many people didn’t acknowledge how and what would change if there was to be a war 77 years later after World War 2. The Russia vs Ukraine war changed teenagers’ lives and perspectives completely. For example, It has caused an inflammatory rise in the economic system. Russia is a big provider of oil and fertilizer, but because of this war, Russia is being shunned from other countries simply because no one wants to deal with them. This has caused many people an extra cost on their living habits. Another example of war impacting people’s lives is Russia has subscripted many of its boys to join the war, even if they didn’t want to. These boys were just like Paul Baumer and his friends. They were civilised teenage boys who had been transformed into savages and now cannot come back to their original lives. Many boys being drafted to fight may be undergoing the same problem. Russia vs Ukraine relates back to The Lost Generation and the horror of war. War isn’t a glorious thing as Kantorek thinks even the same as Vladimir Putin- who is the president of Russia. War should never ever be glorified.

To summarise, war corrupts the human soul, physically and mentally. Paul Baumer experiences how going home from war has made him feel disconnected from his normal civilised self. He can’t tell his family about what his experiences at war is really like. If he does it would upset them. He also struggles to wear his uniform back in Germany after his dad tells him too. His dad believes he should feel proud of himself and the success he’s had during war. Paul however does not feel this way as it symbolises death and destruction. He also encounters his first face-to-face killing of Gerard DuVal. This causes him to realise he will never be able to not look back on this situation, and how it has made him realise maybe for the first time his enemy is just like him, with hopes, dreams and families. This is memorable for teenagers because of the ongoing current war of Russia vs Ukraine. Russia vs Ukraine has impacted the world with a lot of negativity. It has caused a huge rise in the economic system, with people having extra costs on living, and Russia drafting many of its men to join the war even if they didn’t want to. Remarques theme the lost generation and the horror of war relates back to Russia vs Ukraines due to many soldiers currently at war who have most likely become dehumanised and cannot come back to their normal lives.

Kia ora handsanitiser

Avery detailed essay here with a lot of understanding of the text and the wider ideas shown. To improve - I would have a close look at how you are using evidence. When you do use it, you are weaving it in well, but a lot of these paragraphs do not have evidence (quotations) from the text - and would be strengthened by adding this. For example when you move into Russia and Ukraine and teenagers, is there a quote fro the text that sort of sums up or is similar to some of the situations you are talking about in Ukraine/Russia? Make the link more direct.

Additionally - try to engage more with the words in the question “memorable” - to do this, consider what makes an idea memorable? Is it because it is shocking? Relatable? because it is repeated so often, or teaches us about situations we have never imagined? The only time you really touch on this is in the conclusion, though it was mentioned twice in the question which means it was important.

You clearly have a strong understanding of the text itself and the author’s purpose within. Therefore to improve, your main focus should be on working on how you address the question. Some people do this by planning for a bunch of different questions and considering how their essay would need to be different each time. You could also spend some time going through this essay and looking where you could add in description and explanation of the “memorable” nature of the ideas in each paragraph :slight_smile: