War destroys the human soul.In Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, he truly shows what war is actually like.He does this by putting images in the readers heads, showing them how horrific war is.He describes the events that happen in gruelling detail showing how war can physically and mentally wreck someone.
Erich Maria Remarque wrote this novel from his own personal experiences from serving in the first world war.Remarque was a soldier in the war and uses his own personal sightings and experiences to share what war is truly like.The main message of the novel is it being an anti-war novel,Remarque wrote many more novels about his days in the war.In the 1930’s Nazi,German soldiers burnt this book because it showed what war was really like and would prevent people from signing up to join the second world war.Remarque quotes ‘This book is intended neither as an accusation nor as a confession,but simply as an attempt to give and account of a generation that was destroyed by the war-even those who survived the shelling’.This statement is at the start of the novel and tells the reader that the novel is not a confession or accusation of the war but to show people what truly happens.The novel follows Paul Baumer,a 19 year old who has just left school to fight in the war for Germany and the narrator of this novel and his friends from school.
‘Only a military hospital can really show you what war is’.Is a quote from when Paul and his friend Albert Kropp are in a military hospital for their injuries they received while running away from a shelling.Paul states this showing that seeing the injuries and mental stability from the soldiers in the hospital will truly show what war is.A part in the novel that shows this is when Kropp is brought back from surgery where they amputated his leg from upper thigh downwards.
‘He is in a bad way.’ , ‘Now he hardly ever speaks.’, it gets worse when he says ‘he will shoot himself the minute he can lay his hands on a revolver.’ This shows how drastically war can change someone’s mind set on their will to live,Kropp is practically saying he would rather die than live with only one leg.Another soldier in the hospital,very young,a musician.The nurses aren’t allowed to give him knives for eating,but one time a nurse left him for a moment with a fork and he grabbed it and jammed it into his chest.This shows imagery and it paints a picture in the reader’s head of what war is.Paul is later given crutches,because his injury doesn’t make him confined to a bed,so he decides to walk around with his crutches and quotes ‘It is only here that you realise all the different places where a man can be hit.’.He quotes this as he is looking around at all the other wounded soldiers.This creates an image for the reader of Paul limping around looking at other wounded men and can see how they have all been hit in various places.
This relates to one of the main themes of the novel ‘the horror of war’ which shows what war is truly like. Remarque describes the military hospital in full description because he is showing the reader what war is really like and how it destroys the human soul.
People die in war.It’s inevitable.But the way Remarque describes it,is horrific.There are many different quotes in the novel that show this,but one in particular that can show discomfort in the reader is ‘In the branches dead men are hanging,A naked soldier is squatting in the fork of a tree,he still has his helmet on,otherwise he is entirely unclad.There is only half of him sitting up there,the top half,the legs are missing.’.This shows something that war has caused.It puts an image in the reader’s head,being able to visualise the dead soldiers hanging in the trees and another one without his legs.Another quotes that shows imagery is ‘Right next to me a lance-corporal gets his head blown off.’ , ‘He runs on for a few more paces with blood shooting out his neck then stops and falls to the ground.’.This really can haunt anyone especially the soldiers who saw this first hand.This connects to the horror of war and how war destroys the human soul.
Animal instincts,fight or flight mode,survival of the fittest.These are all essential when at war, Paul experiences this when an unknown man slides down into the shelling crater he is in.Paul’s fight or flight mode kicks in and he wildly stabs him until his body goes limp.Paul then realises what he has done and starts to register that he is a just like him.Paul spends a gruelling amount of time in the crater while waiting for the coast to be clear.He even tries to help that man who he then knows him as Gerald Duval,whispering to him “I’m trying to help you comrade, camarade,camarade,camarade-” He applies dressings to the Duval stab wounds,but it’s no use he eventually dies.The reader stays with Paul while he is in the crater and can see how he mentally goes through this realisation.The imagery in this part of the novel shows Paul in his own thoughts realising what he has done.This shows the horror of war and what it can do to anyone physically and mentally.War does destroy the human soul.
In conclusion,war destroys people physically,mentally and turns them into animals which makes them do things they wouldn’t do if it weren’t a life or death situation.War is still going on today like in Russia and Ukraine and in parts of Africa.Remarque wrote this novel to show people what war is truly like and how it can affect people,he uses his own personal experiences to show what war is really like.Ultimately war is not glorious and should not be glorified and it destroys the human soul.