Describe a key moment that shocked or surprised you in the written text. Explain how this moment was important to the text as a whole.
In the incredible novel, ‘All Quiet on the western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque, we are able to get the true understanding of how much war corrupts the human soul. This is shown in the main character, Paul Baumer. Paul, a young and bright teenager, is convinced to join the first world war along with his classmates once they leave school. Little do they know the conflicts they must face once the war has done their damage on them. A great example of an internal conflict in this novel is when Paul returns home on leave. This section of the story shows the full range effects that the war has had over Paul.
The first world war was to be known as the "war to end all wars’ '. Erich Maria Remarque was actually a German soldier during the first world war. He had a good idea of what the war brought to those involved. Remarque wrote and published this novel in the late 1920s as an anti-war novel that warned the reader on how much war has taken away from him and many others. due to this, during the NAZI reign throughout Germany in the 1930s and 40s, Remarques masterpiece was banned and would be thrown into fires along with similar novels. Whilst during these terrible times, Remarque fled from Germany in hopes that he would not be arrested by the Nazis.
In the novel, ‘All Quiet on the western Front’ we are exposed to the ideas and thoughts of the main character paul. Throughout the story we slowly watch as war takes a slow and painful toll over Paul and his fellow soldiers, yet one part of the story that shows this is when Paul returns home on leave. Paul is given 17 days leave away from the front lines to return to his family. When Paul returns home he comes to the conclusion that he is now an outcast from normal society. He may look like an everyday person in everyday clothes, yet he feels outside of himself, the war has completely and utterly changed Paul and how he views the world. He’s different. The very first time Paul walks through his ‘old’ house’s doors, he is flooded with so much emotion. “wretched and helpless, horribly paralysed and i can’t help it” this quote tells the reader that he is overwhelmed with the fact that he has returned to a world that he no longer misses. He hates that he has been changed by the war and wishes he could go back. This links to the overhanging theme of the lost generation. Paul belongs to the war now, he can never go back to the world he once loved. He has been stripped from all his innocence, something a boy his age should still have. But like many others, Paul has been thrown into a war that has killed his old self. When Paul is home, his mother is asking him questions about the war. She is curious, and wants to know what is happening. Paul cannot answer her questions. " You won’t understand, you never will and I don’t want you to. "This particular statement from chapter 7 tells the reader that Paul cannot find solace in his own mother anymore. He cannot tell his mother the horror he has witnessed, he can relate to her like he could with his new family, the soldiers in the trenches. This shows both the lost generation and horror of war themes because Paul has been exposed to such horrors that the war has shown to him that he cannot express what he has seen because the effect of him has been so extensive.
Now that Paul has come to the understanding that he no longer belongs in an everyday society, he must accept the fact that once this war is over, he will not be able to continue his old life that he had before joining this horrible war. Paul, once a young teenager with dreams, aspirations and talents, is now a killing machine. Like an animal, he has turned into his instincts, he only now knows how to kill. When paul goes and sits in his room he looks through all is old books and drawings, two things that he loved when he was innocent, he thinks to himself, “I want to get that quiet rapture back, feel again, just as before, that fierce and unnamed passion I used to feel when I looked at my books”. This thought is the perfect example because it shows the reader how agony the war has given to Paul. He still, desperately wants to have his old life back, he wants to enjoy the things he used to enjoy like his books. No matter how many times he wishes to go back to normal, he can never go back.
‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ shows the reader how much something like a war can affect people. This book has had a massive effect on its readers because they are taught what the war is actually like, not this heroic and courageous conflict that many people are told. This book also links to modern day contexts that are currently happening, like the war in the Ukraine still going on to this day. Even though we now know how much war had ruined people’s lives from reading this book and watching it affect Paul, we still watch as these battles continue to ‘fuel government egos’. No one should ever have to go through what Paul has gone through, he is the picture perfect example of a struggling soldier that regrets joining the army, he represents almost every soldier in the first world war. Lost and scared.