Describe an incident that changes the course of events in the text.
Explain how this change was important to the text as a whole.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque showcases the true horrors and brutality of war throughout the entire novel. Emphasised through the reality of how the war changes the soldiers lives dramatically. Paul Baumer the narrator and main character is faced with dramatic change and events from the horror of war. The dehumanisation of war transformed him from a young adult into a desensitised killing machine. Finally, when Paul goes back home for leave he is hit with the reality of what he had become. This event is important because it portrays how the war changed many lives and is usually overlooked in many war novels. Remarque is able to show that these heroic and idealistic soldiers living out on the battlefield wasn’t what it was believed to be.
Paul Baumer an 18-year-old german student drafted alongside his classmates to fight on the front line. Paul and his classmate’s teacher Kantorek encouraged that they volunteer to fight. Gullible and naive as they were deceived by the invisible mask of war. Their lives were about to be changed forever. No longer were they, civilians, by they were soldiers training to become the perfect killing machine. Life out on the front forced them to live off their animal instincts where daily tasks turned into their worst nightmare where the carnage and butchery of the frontline left them desensitised. Their emotions were left behind and what made them weak, their animal instincts was their strength.
The front became home for these young soldiers as everything they learnt in school and before the war was pointless. The older soldiers had a job, a family to go back to but they had nothing but the war. The time had come for Paul to return home on leave for the first time. Paul stood there in emptiness and sorrow. What was this strange feeling? Paul’s own home had become a foreign place where he stood out and was misplaced. Detaching themselves from their emotions they left behind memories of their home, family and old lives. Paul was separated from the outside world where he was left lonely, no one understood the true realism of war. Even his own family would never understand Paul. Men like Kantorek were foolish and only when they fight out on the battlefield they’d know the true horror only the soldiers understood. They had become nothing but a statistic.
Walking into his bedroom and putting on his own ‘civilian clothes’ was an obscure feeling. His most prised possessions became meaningless and pointless. He loved his books, even bought his favourite ones with his own money, in the end, that was who he used to be, the old Paul, but he didn’t exist anymore. Back out on the front, Paul couldn’t bring himself to fight his own mind. His conscience was constantly in the back of his mind making him weaker and weaker. Killing a man face to face was part of his daily routine buy this time he was fighting his morals. The enemy was here for the same reason as Paul fighting for their country. Going back home was Pauls biggest regret, it made him vulnerable. The war wasn’t just part of Pauls life, it was his life.
Remarque emphasised and showed the true horror of war, different from what many other war novels show. All Quiet on the Western Front showcased the raw truth of what it was like out in combat. The change the soldiers faced from becoming young men into killing machines was able to let the reader understand what life out in the trenches was really like. Going back home for the soldiers had no longer become something to look after to rather something to forget about. The dehumanization and living of their animal instincts to survive made them the perfect soldiers. Their home and family had become forgotten memories. As heroic and idealistic as the war seemed to be, the soldiers lives out on the front wasn’t what we all believed it to be.