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A War With Different Enemies Essay

2129 words - 9 pages

A War With Different Enemies

     War novels previous to All Quiet On The Western Front, tend to romanticize the real conditions of the war, and the troubles faced by the soldiers. However, All Quiet On The Western Front, not only does not romanticize the terrible experiences of World War I, it also provides the reader with accurate and detailed portrayal of the horrors of the War. The author, Erich Maria Remarque does this by emphasizing several themes. The first theme is how the war affects each soldier, the second is the horrors of war, and the third is nationalism. Each of these themes allows the reader to enter deep into the minds of the soldiers who were ...view middle of the document...

This is evident in chapter four when Paul says: “At the sound of the first droning of the shells we rush back, in one part of our being, a thousand years.” (Remarque 28) As Paul describes this he paints a good picture of what happened when they first encountered battle, and what happened when they realized what they were really up against. Using the phrase “in one part of our being a thousand years” (Remarque 28) paints the picture that as they experienced the shells flying past them, they were so shocked that some went back “a thousand years” (Remarque 28), as if one just forgot about everything and was not only working on instinct. The paragraph continues to say that “we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals” (Remarque 28), meaning that as they see more and more of the war, their “fuel” is no longer patriotism, love of country, or anything except the will to survive. They unconsciously rely on instinct to survive. This point is further demonstrated by Paul when he engages in killing the Frenchman Duval. After killing him Paul finds out that the man like him had a family, and he then fully realizes that the man is not his true enemy. He even says: “Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?”(Remarque 100) However, Paul feels terrible, because he knows that this realization has come “too late”, and that not everyone has realized this. When he first saw the Frenchman he saw “an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. . . . I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle;” (Remarque 100). Paul went by what he was taught, and he was taught to view a person of a different uniform or a different country as an enemy, not as just another human being. This is what I think is an important part to understand about any war. The people that go and fight are going there because they believe in something that was taught to them by others. Paul in the story went to war so that he could defend his country. He made this decision after the long talk that the teacher had with the class. They were told that their country is superior and that they must show. They were not told that when they go to battle the odds of dying are incredibly high, or how much anguish they will feel after killing someone. Simply they were told to fight, and in their young minds they believed in the cause they fighting for so much, that they overlooked the fact that they would be killing another human being. Another “poor devils like [Paul]” (Remarque 100), another man who has a family and a child. I think that if people could try to understand that when fighting a war for your country, all you are fighting for is pride, and it is not worth it, then the world would be more peaceful. If people viewed each other as just another “poor devil”, instead of an American, or a French, or a Canadian, then people would see how pointless and hurtful a war really is, and how it is not worth it....

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