Not the best but I wasn’t quite sure what to fix.
Question: Describe a place or time where the main character felt very comfortable or uncomfortable in the written text. Explain how techniques helped you to understand the character’s reaction(s).
War ruins lives. Erich Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war novel, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ is a harsh depiction of war. Our narrator, Paul Baumer––a young German soldier in The Great War. When home on leave, Paul discovers he doesn’t feel comfortable back in his old life. Remarque uses a variety of techniques to express Paul’s discomfort. In Remarque’s message, ‘The Lost Generation’, Paul and his experiences are used to great effect.
Erich Maria Remarque, originally Erich Paul Remark, was born in Osnabrück in Northern Germany. Remarque––until then educated in Catholic Schools––was 16 when The Great War started. Called up on the 26th of November 1916, Remarque was sent to train at Caprivi barracks (changed to Klosterberg for the novel). When stationed at the battle of Passchendaele, he was wounded by British shell splinters. He was taken to a military hospital in Duisburg, he stayed as a clerk for a while after recovering. While he was training in Osnabrück, the war ended. When Hitler and the Nazis came into power, Remarque moved to America, deprived of his citizenship and his books burned. Remarque—now living in Switzerland—published several other works before he died on 25th September 1970.
Paragraph 1: Narrative point of view
Paul is the protagonist and narrator of ‘All Quiet on The Western Front’ (AQWF) so the reader sees the story mainly through his eyes, this amplifies the effect of Paul’s return home. The reader is thrown straight back home with Paul as he struggles to come to terms with the way he has changed. The reader experiences Paul’s emotions as he sifts through his old room, looking at his once beloved possessions. Paul, who had been sent to the war immediately after school, is disconnected from his old life because he has gone through horrible things. No one at home can relate to him, no one has gone through the same things. He “…Can’t come to terms with things here anymore, it’s another world” because he has been through the war. Remarque is showing how disconnected Paul is from his old life, and how much war has changed him. He shows the reader this by having Paul visit his old room, Paul feels disconnected in his room, he just wants it to take him up and carry him back to the way things used to be. The war has changed him.
Paragraph 2: Symbolism
Paul in his room goes through all the stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance because he has lost his old self–He is trying to come to terms with this. Remarque uses this scene to show the reader how much the war has affected Paul. Remarque has Paul wander around his room and try to interact with his old life in what used to be his home. The reader sees paul finally accept the fact that he has changed, “Slowly I place the books back in the shelves. Nevermore. Quietly, I go out of the room.” The reader gets to experience it through his eyes and because of the stages of grief Paul goes through, it is evident to the reader that he is lost and wants his old life back. ‘The Lost Generation’ is a major theme in AQWF and Paul’s character shows it at this moment. Remarque uses Paul to show the reader the damaging effect of war on the human soul.
Paragraph 3: Syntax
The sentence structure in AQWF is used to prove points and express ideas in certain ways. One example is “There is my mother, there is my sister, there is the glass case with my butterflies, there is the mahogany piano — but I am not quite myself yet.” he uses listing to give the reader an idea of what is around him and then follows it up with an Em-Dash that tells us he isn’t himself. Everything else is normal but he isn’t yet. The reader understands how Paul is feeling because of the way he structured it, if he had said simply that ‘he didn’t feel himself’ the reader would know how he is feeling but not why. Paul is very clearly uncomfortable as everything is normal but he isn’t, the contrasting sentence helps us see that. Paul wants his old life to pick him up again. “With my eyes I implore them: speak to me — speak to me up — take me up — take me up again, you old life — you carefree, wonderful life — take me up again”, the reader feels bad for Paul and the way his life has turned out. The reader understands what Paul is feeling as he is telling it first-hand to the reader. Remarque also uses a capital letter for ‘Life’ to personify it, treating it as if it were a person, the person he was or could have been, this is who he is grieving for.
The war has changed his life forever. Many will never be the same again. The whole chapter 7 details his experiences at home, back with his family, but Paul feels uncomfortable. Paul has been through the ‘Horror of War’ and upon returning home he discovered that his life wasn’t the same. Remarque uses this trip home to drive home the point of ‘The Lost Generation’ using Paul as his example. When Paul feels disconnected, the reader can relate to him and feel bad for him. Remarque uses Paul’s leave to show how much he has changed and how disconnected he is. Paul has witnessed some of his close friends die and killed someone by hand. When he returns home, he is changed. It doesn’t feel like his home anymore. He lacks the part of himself that he used to have, the old him is gone now.
Paul’s outlook has directly changed because of the war. Upon returning home he is uncomfortable, like many soldiers after the war. After World War I many soldiers would have gone home feeling the same way, this gives the reader a sample of how they must have felt. These soldiers–like Paul–had to find ways to deal with the war, they toughened themselves. Paul misses himself and doesn’t feel right in his own home, he is more at home at the Front. Remarque portrays the fact that, though some have survived, it still destroyed an entire generation. War changes the human soul.