Describe an important incident within the text
(I didn’t write about the second part of question, don’t have time)
War destroys people. Erich Maria Remarque’s ground-breaking novel is an anti-war novel that displays the themes of The Lost Generation and Horror of War through gruesome imagery. War changed these men into completely different people, their humanity got stripped away and got made into animals. The soldiers experienced so much death and suffering that they no longer function like normal humans. Remarque writes his book through the eyes of Paul Baumer, an 18 year old soldier fighting in the trenches experiencing horrific atrocities on a daily basis.
Erich Maria Remarque wrote this book about what he experienced first hand. He was a soldier in WW1, he wrote this book about all the trauma and horror that he suffered with. People thought War was a glorious place, War was displayed as a heroic act. The way War got described to people was that you bravely march into battle and die as a hero. Remarque was focussed on emphasizing the themes of ‘Horror of War’ and ‘The Lost Generation’ because he was drafted at age 18 and fought on the Western Front of WW1. At the Front he witnessed many atrocities that he later on wrote about in his book ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. Remarque wrote his book to show the true nature of War. In the 1930’s ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ was burnt by the Nazi Regime because of its representation of German soldiers as disheartened and portrayed Germany in a bad manner.
An important incident in ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is when Paul Baumer went home on leave. When Paul arrives home he immediately realizes home doesn’t feel the same anymore. He remisises in his old memories as he travels through his town. Paul soon realizes no one back at home knows what is going on at War. The following quote “I breathe slowly in and out and say to myself; you are home, you are home” shows how the War has dissociated Paul from his old life and he can’t come to terms that he is really home. Civilians back at home don’t understand what Paul has been through, he has suffered the loss of his friends, terrible living conditions, starvation, and trauma. Civilians back at home don’t know the true nature of War. War traumatized and changed Paul for life. Paul home on leave shows the theme of ‘The Lost Generation’. Paul is symbolic of all the young soldiers that went to War and came back completely different people.
Paul changed so much during his time at War that when he arrived home he leaned on his rifle and cried. Paul felt so overwhelmed and emotional being back home “tears and more tears are running down my face”. Paul cannot bring himself to answer questions about the War truthfully to his mother “Mother what kind of an answer can I give you? You won’t understand and never will ". All the death and violence Paul has witnessed out on the Front is something he would never wish upon another human being. When Paul was on his way to the commandments office, he fails to salute a major, who then tells him off for his bad manners. Paul experiences a rage because of it “What i’d really like to do is hit him in the face. After that encounter Paul was angry that he should be told off for lack of protocol after having to endure the horrors on the Front “a dull rage is seething inside of me”. Because Paul is unhappy about how he got treated, he decides to wear civilian clothes, his Mother does not mind but his Father wants him to wear his uniform so he can show off that he has a son in the army. “My Father would have preferred me to wear my uniform…But I refuse”. Paul doesn’t want to wear his uniform because it symbolizes the death and suffering he has encountered, therefore has no interest in wearing it.
While Paul is out with his Father and his friends they are asking him questions about the War. Paul feels uncomfortable and feels as though he cannot confide in these people because they simply will not understand. The following quote “I can’t get on with the people” shows how Paul is very uncomfortable in this situation and he realizes no one actually understands what is happening at War. “The War is really not like people imagine it”
Paul is so disconnected with his old life that when he goes to look at his books all the passion that he used to feel is no longer there. Paul’s books are symbolic of his old life, that is dead and gone. He can never go back to the life he was living before the War. “I feel agitated; but I don’t want to be”. Paul experiences the 5 stages of grief home on leave denial, anger bargaining, depression and acceptance. Paul experiences denial by sitting there waiting for all the passion and love to come back “I sit and I wait”, Paul is in denial he has changed during his time at War and is waiting for everything to go back to normal. Paul experiences anger because he feels agitated when he can no longer go back to his old life. When he looks at his books, he’s angry that he no longer feels the passion he used to. Paul doesn’t really experience bargaining but he tries to make himself remember how he felt before War “speak to me-take me up-take me up again,you old life-you carefree,wonderful life-take me up again”. Paul mourns his old life before War, he struggles to find meaning and is depressed, he tries to make sense of War and fails. As he realizes the passion for his books and his old life is never coming back he becomes depressed “a terrible feeling of isolation wells up inside me. I can’t get back” Paul accepts the fact that no one at home will fully understand the experiences Paul is going through at War. When looking at his books he acknowledges the fact that he has changed and has strung away from his pre-war passions. He accepts the fact that his old life is over and he can never go back to it. “It’s over”.
War destroys people. War destroyed generations of young men. Paul was completely disconnected from his home life, he got changed into an animal. Nobody back at home understands the war’s true nature and its impact on soldiers. Paul Baumer’s return home was an important incident during the text because it displayed the theme of ‘The Lost Generation’. His return home made the reader become truly aware of the negative effects War has on a person. Erich Maria Remarque’s novel portrays the disillusion and trauma that destroyed the soldiers in WW1. People in the world to this day are going through the same trauma and suffering Paul Baumer and his friends went through. War is not a glorious place, War destroys people.