History 4c paper 2 - The True Cost of War Alexandra Kineret...

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The True Cost of WarAlexandra KineretMay 25, 2016TA: Brian Griffith, Section 4:00 TuesdayWord Count: 1,050
Only a decade after the First World War, which tore the world apart and caused more than37 million deaths, Erich Maria Remarque published his novel All Quiet on the Western Front amidst rising nationalist sentiment, which would become a major contributor to the beginning of WWII.1Although in the epigraph Remarque claims, “This book is to be neither an accusation nora confession…It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who… were destroyed by the war”, many readers at the time of its publication, as well as readers today, believe it to be a clear indictment of war.2The way the novel showcases the soldiers’ loss of conviction in their cause, as well as the dehumanization they experience, creates a powerful warning against war that contradicts Remarque’s claim, and reminds the reader of the consequences of violence. One of the strongest anti-war messages in Remarque’s story comes from the soldiers questioning of why they are at war, and how their beliefs have changed once they see combat. In the opening chapter, Paul, the narrator, discusses the anger he feels, after being encouraged by the leaders from the generation before his to show his pride in their country by enlisting, remembering “While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knewthat death-throes are stronger…but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see”.3

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