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Tran Thi TranDr. Marek SuszkoHIST 10213 November 2012All Quiet on the Western Front Book Review“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.”1All Quiet on the Western Frontis a novel written by war veteran Erich Maria Remarque in response to the brutalities of World War I and is told from the account of a young German soldier named Paul Bäumer who is serving in the western front trenches in France. Bäumer, along with his other school friends volunteered as soldiers, was influenced by the chauvinistic schoolmaster, Kantorek, with a disillusionment of thinking war was glorious for Germany. As the war continues, Bäumer and his young friends realized that being on the western front expressed nothing but, “despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow.”2Even though All Quiet on the Western Frontwas filled with tragic violence and death, the message that Remarque was trying to establish was the real tragedy lies in the devastation of the survivors and how their lives changed after the war. The author eliminates the false belief that war is supposed to be nationalistic, glorious and honorable. Rather, the only effect of war is death and misery.The madness of the war was exposed in the novel. Much of the lives of these soldiers are revealed: from the long, ruthless fighting on the battlefield to long, unscheduled monotony in the trenches. An example showing the negative psychological effect of being on the western front is where the narrator and his comrades started with off with just discussing about trivial, daily
Tran discussions and problems on one day to switching the mindset to becoming a vicious murderer and brutally killing the enemies through encounter. These extremities are the source of providing these soldiers an outlook of psychological distress. Particularly, offensive battle scenes are expressed in intense details and how it impacts soldiers. An important representation of this was when Bäumer went back home, and instead of feeling relieved to be away from the burden of warfare, he is troubled of having to leave the western front in the first place. “A pause that only makes everything after it so much worse. Already the sense of parting begins to intrude itself.”3He is filled with the notion of uneasiness and lament. Also, the narrator had a sense that he was no longer a part of his society. For him, “there is a distance, a veil between us.”4Above all, even having survived the war and went back home, these men’s lives are