Shanice FinchHIST 152Essay NovelAll Quiet on the Western FrontIn Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, the reality of World War I is revealed through the life of a young soldier, Paul Baumer and his German company. One can recognize that during the time of this war, soldiers did in fact experience horrendous conditions and these conditions and experiences changed their lives forever. What this novel address, is much of the everyday life that a solider had to endure, all told through a first-person narrative of Paul Baumer. Through the experiences and narration of character Baumer, Remarque addresses many aspects of the war that affected soldiers fighting on all sides of the battle. Remarque uses this novel as a platform to show how trench warfare effects, death, and living conditions affected a soldier’s strength during World War I and also how forces such as comradery and so-called “war luxuries” left soldiers to fight and endure another day.In the very first chapters, Paul is seen as a character who is easily detached from emotion.Although his character experiences much grief and death, such as the death of a comrade Kemmerich, Paul is still seen desensitizing his emotions of death along with his group of war brothers. This was a common coping-mechanism for many of the soldiers in World War I because of the effects that their emotions could have had on them during the war. In the novel many times, the men in Paul’s company are seen playing around or making light of situations that would normally be taken more seriously. This is a huge example of behaviors and conditions that helped these men to not only survive the conditions but to experience some form
of joy, release, or humor. Instead of grieving and truly settling into the harsh realities that they faced in the war, Paul, his comrades, and those in his company resorted to numbing themselves to emotions, all undergirded by their humor and joy in comradery. In the very beginning of the book, the men are playing cards, smoking, and having what seems like an enjoyable time in a horrible place. Although two men, Joseph Behn and Kemmerich are presumed dead and on the road to death, Paul and his friends are numbing their emotions by refusing to mourn the men.