- Describe at least one important technique used in the text. Explain how the technique created an emotional response in you
War destroys the soul. Erich Maria Remarque’s novel "All Quiet on the Western Front” uses vivid imagery as an important technique that shows the reader the devastating and horrifying reality of war that creates a terrible feeling of sadness and sympathy for the people who experienced World War I. Remarques shows this technique through the eyes of Paul Baumer, who is a young German soldier who joined the war with his classmates straight out of high school, he is the narrator of the novel. The use of imagery highlights the horror of war and how war slowly destroys the soul.
Erich Maria Remarque writes about the horrors of WW1 as he experienced it himself, he joined the army straight out of high school, just like Paul and his classmates. He writes about horrific experiences that are based around what he went through on the Western Front to show the readers the true reality of war as the public who hadn’t been to war have been told that war is a glorious thing and it is an honour to serve your country, war was made out to be something that it wasn’t, something that was better. Remarque wanted the public to know the truth about the war so people wouldn’t be so eager to go to war. In the 1930s the Nazis started burning ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ as they were planning another war and didn’t want people to be aware of the reality of war.
Remarque uses vivid imagery continuously in his novel to show the true horror of war. In Chapter 4 the soldiers hear loud, horrific screaming, they recognise the screaming coming from wounded horses, ‘There is a whole world of pain in that sound, creation itself under torture, a wild and horrifying agony’ Paul can hardly believe the sound, he has never heard something like that before, he feels sick that these innocent animals are in such pain. Deterring is extremely affected by the sound as he is a farmer and has horses at home, he begs for them to be shot so they are put out of misery. They finally spot the animals and the sight is terrifying ‘The belly of one of the horses has been ripped out and its guts are trailing out. It gets its feet caught up in them and falls, but gets to its feet again.’ Remarque’s use of descriptive imagery shows the reader that animals are brutally slaughtered in war even though they are completely innocent in this matter, which creates a feeling of sympathy in the reader, which helps highlight Remarque’s message that War destroys the soul. This relates to the world now as innocent children in Gaza, Ukraine, and Israel are brutally murdered in war.
Remarque uses vivid imagery to show that even the dead don’t get to rest in war. This is shown in Chapter 4 when Paul and his battalion are headed back to camp from the front, they are at a place in the woods that has been turned into a graveyard for the rifle brigade when they are hit by shells. Paul takes cover in one of the shell holes, where he grabs onto something, he realises what he grabbed onto was the sleeve of a dead soldier. ‘The cemetery has been blown to pieces. Coffins and corpses are scattered all around. They have been killed for a second time; but every corpse that was shattered saved the life of one of us.’ This use of imagery Remarque used shows how the dead cannot even rest and they are still used in war, in this scene they were used as coverage for the soldiers who were hiding from the shells. The soldiers could not even escape the horrors of war even in death, they continued to serve their country by protecting other soldiers and saving their lives by giving them coverage. This scene and Remarque’s use of imagery form a terrific feeling of sadness and sympathy in the reader for the soldiers, which emphasises Remarque’s point to the reader about the horrors of war and how terrific it truly is.
Another scene where Remarque uses imagery to create a feeling of sympathy within the reader to help prove his point about the horror of war is when Paul kills the French soldier. Paul is hiding in a shell hole as he is slightly out of it and it is not safe for him to leave. When another person falls into the shell hole, Paul doesn’t think and acts on instinct as he stabs the soldier. ‘I don’t think at all, I make no decision - I just stab wildly and feel only how the body jerks, then goes limp and collapse.’ Paul has never killed someone by hand before, he feels an immense amount of guilt towards the man so he tries to keep him alive, but fails to. This use of imagery that Remarque has used shows the actual reality of war as Paul realises for the first time that the people he and all the other soldiers are killing are people with wives and children at home waiting for them to come back, he realises that they are human just like him. ‘It is only now that I can see that you are a human being like me.’ This relates to the world now as people in Ukraine and Russia are made to fight and die because of the actions of their leaders.
In conclusion, Remarque uses imagery to emphasise to the reader the true reality of war and the horrors that the soldiers face on a day-to-day basis. The imagery he uses also creates a feeling of sadness and sympathy for all the innocent soldiers and animals who lost their lives in horrific ways due to war. This emotional response further emphasises Remarque’s point that war is not glorious whatsoever and how war destroys the soul. Sadly the politicians and leaders of today have not learnt from this book as there continues to be horrific warfare in Gaza, Ukraine, and Israel today.