All Quiet on the Western Front - HNRS 2013-2 George Owen All Quiet on the Western Front Though World War II in Europe did not officially begin until the

All Quiet on the Western Front - HNRS 2013-2 George Owen...

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HNRS 2013-2George OwenAll Quiet on the Western FrontThough World War II in Europe did not officially begin until the morning of September 1st, 1939, when German troops began streaming across the Polish border, no study of the topic can or should begin here. To understand the origins of the Second World War, one must look to the First. For this reason we have been asked to read Erich Remarque’s famous novel about the life of an average German solider in the Great War, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and consider the some of the following questions: Is thisan anti-war novel? Is it great literature? Does it insinuate that the average German solider of World War One was a pacifist? And finally, why was the 1930 film adaption of the novel such a worldwide success?When asked the question of whether this is an antiwar novel, there can undoubtedly be only one answer: yes. The war is presented, through the lowly enlisted soldier Paul, as an endless, meaningless, and barbarous construction in which one alternates between long, mind numbing stretches of boredom juxtaposed with sudden, intense periods of sheer terror and monstrous horror. This terrible reality transforms the men fighting it into an almost animal like state, living solely by their instincts, as it is the only way to survive. Remarque shows the disconnect between a high-minded, romantic ideal of war and its grim actuality, especially through the character of Paul’s schoolmaster Kantorek. At the outbreak of war Kantorek rallies Paul’s whole class to go and enlist, including one boy who is reluctant. A few monthslater that boy is dead. Before the end of the war, Paul and his entire class will join him, all their years of

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