Essay On All Quiet On The Western Front


World War I became more, than just global war for its contemporaries and for all mankind. It has turned back a grandiose disaster. In many researches it was repeatedly noted that World War I was so terrible and catastrophic because this war was unusual and it was conducted by new, unknown rules.

In the novel we find understanding that war splits life of people on "before and after". The war "washes away" its participants. And, most likely, this feeling has appeared during fighting, approximately when war became positional.

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Of course, any war forces us to change something in outlook on life. During the war, for example, it isn't a crime to kill the enemy, and any soldier is ready also to die if he knows for the sake of what sacrifices the life. However, when wars come to an end, as the history testifies, life doesn't come back to the right place. Especially after such massacres as World War I. Four years soldiers were fighting, without seeing in it any sense.

Yes, they protected the fatherland though not many people understood clearly from whom and from what they did it. It is well known that this war has not only made basic changes to world politics, to distribution of forces and roles between world powers, but also became the catalyst of revolution and disintegration of empires.

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All these changes reflected in life of each person. Erich Maria Remarque wrote about consequences of war: about sufferings, war, pity, love and friendship. Wars which followed World War I, were more cruel, and more bloody. But sufferings of people in the subsequent wars became more notable. The themes taken up in the novel "All Quiet on the Western Front" will find then the continuation in other novels not only by Erich of Maria Remarque, but also by other writers. After World War II people will turn back and will understand that a lot of things, predicted and sounded in the novel, had not been heard and therefore brought to bigger to serious consequences.

The novel "All Quiet on the Western Front" was issued in the 1929th year. Many publishers doubted its success – it was too frank and uncharacteristic for existing of ideology of glorification of Germany at that time in the society. Erich Maria Remarque, who left in the 1916th year on war as a volunteer, acted not so much as the author, how the ruthless witness of what he saw on the European fields of battles. The author described all horrors of war fairly, simply, without excess emotions, but with ruthless cruelty, which irretrievable ruined his generation. "All Quiet on the Western Front" - the novel is not about heroes, but about the victims. Remarque considers both the dead, and salvaged from shells of young people as victims.

The main characters of the novel are yesterday's pupils, as well as the author, who has left on the front as volunteers (pupils of one class – Paul Beumer, Albert Kropp, Müller, Leer, Franz Kemmerich), and their senior fellow soldiers (the mechanic Tyaden, the worker peat bog Haye Vestkhus, the peasant who was able to get out of any situation Stanislav Katchinsky). They do not live and fight, but they just try to be saved from death. The young people who have fallen into a trap of teacher's promotion quickly have understood that war is not an opportunity to serve the homeland valorously, but it is the most usual slaughter in which there is nothing heroic and human.

The first shelling at once placed everything on the right places – the authority of teachers failed, entailed the outlook which they had imparted.

In the battlefield everything that heroes were taught at school, appeared blind alley job: physical laws were succeeded by vital laws, consisting in knowledge of that, "how to light a cigarette when it rains and when wind blows" and how it is better... to kill – "it is the best of all to strike blow with a bayonet in a stomach, but not in edges because in a stomach the bayonet doesn't get stuck".

World War I divided not only the people – it broken internal link between two generations: while "parents" were still writing articles and giving speeches about heroism, their "children" were passing through infirmaries and dying; while "parents" were still putting service to the state above all, "children" already found out that a fear of death is the most terrible and painful feeling ever. According to Paul, understanding of this truth hadn't made any of them "neither the rebel, nor the deserter, nor the coward", but it had given them an awful enlightenment.

Internal changes of heroes begun to happen at a stage of the barracks drilling, consisting of a senseless square-bashing, captures on guard, turns to the right and on the left, clicking by heels and constant abuse and cavils.

Preparation for war has made young men "stale, mistrustful, ruthless, vindictive, and rough". Then the war showed them that they needed these qualities to survive. Barracks study has developed in future soldiers "strong, always ready to be realized into action feeling of mutual cohesion" - war has turned it in "only good" that it could give to mankind – "comradeship". But the matter is that from the former schoolmates at the very beginning of the novel there were twelve people instead of twenty: seven had been already killed, four were wounded, one – had got to a madhouse, and at the time of its end – nobody. Remarque left in the battlefield all including the main character – Paul Beumer whose philosophical reasoning constantly rushed into narration fabric to explain to the reader the events, coz they were clear only to the soldier.

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War for heroes of "All Quiet on the Western Front" takes place in three art spaces: on firing line, at the front and also in the rearward area. The heroes feels most terribly where shells are constantly torn, and the attacks are replaced by counterattacks where lighting rockets burst by "a rain of white, green and red stars", and wounded horses shout so terribly as if the whole world dies together with them. There, in that "ominous whirlpool" which sucks in the person, "paralyzing any resistance", the land becomes the only friend, brother and mother for the soldier, because you may hide in the ground's ravines or cavities obeying the only instinct possible in the battlefield – an instinct of an animal. Where life depends only on a case, and death traps the person continually, everything is possible – to hide in the coffins ruined by bombs, to kill comrades to save them from tortures, to be sorry about the bread eaten by rats, to listen to how dying soldier is shouting because of pain but he can't be found in the battlefield.

Rear part of the front is boundary space between military and peaceful life: in it there is a place for simple human pleasures such as reading newspapers, card-playing, a conversation with friends, but anyway all this is going under the sign of each soldier of "ossification" which is already in blood. The general bathroom, theft of products, expectation of the convenient boots which are transferred from the hero to the hero in process of their wound and death are absolutely natural things for those who got used to fight for the existence.

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What is a conclusion?

The holiday given to Paul Beumer, and his being wrapped up in space of peaceful existence finally convinced the hero that such people as he, will never be able to return back any more. The eighteen-year-old guys, who have just got acquainted with the life and begun to love it, have been forced to shoot at the life and to get directly into their hearts at the same time. For the people of the senior generation who have strong communications with the past (wives, children, professions, interests) the war is a painful, but after all a temporary break in life, however for young people it is a rough stream which has easily pulled out them from the unsteady soil of parental love and nurseries with book shelves.

Senselessness of war, when one person has to kill another only because someone from the top military has told them that they are enemies, cut off belief in human aspirations and progress forever at yesterday's school students. They believe only in war therefore they could not live in peaceful life. They trust only in death with which sooner or later everything comes to an end therefore they could not live the life in a proper way. "The lost generation" could not keep in touch with their relatives and peace friends knowing war only by hearsay and newspapers; "the lost generation" will never give the benefit of their knowledge of war to those who will come for them. You may learn what the war is only in entrenchments; and you may tell all truth about it only in the piece of literature.

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