All Quiet on the Western Front

Essay by Suzal61High School, 10th grade August 2014

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All Quiet on the Western Front

German author Erich Maria Remarque paints a hauntingly realistic portrait of the first world war. The reader understands the consequences better on the human mind as he follows the main character Paul Bauumer. The book is a timepiece occurring 85 years ago during World War I and invites the reader into the lives of Infantrymen in the German Army. Most of whom were Paul's classmates in high school, my age, in fact, which makes me feel that the story could be my story if I had lived in that time. As I read Paul's account of the war and the impact it was having on him I had to self-reflect on my own life, friendships, mortality, fears…..things that I frankly had not thought about before with any depth.

The story begins in a classroom setting with young teenage students and their beloved professor. A charismatic man, he speaks of war and country with such male bravado that the youth are quickly motivated and race to the local recruiting station.

Overflowing with excitement and patriotism, the students sign up to become soldiers. Sadly, both the teacher's pep talks and their own preconceived notions are but a fantasy, a romanticized mythology of war. Paul has this realization quite early when his friend Haie [Westhus] dies in his arms from a fatal wound to the back and chest. The graphic nature of this incident deeply affected Paul. He felt awful after mortally stabbing an enemy soldier and was so upset he apologized to the corpse in a trench. He spent time weeping and trying to understand what he had done and why he had killed another human being. All Quiet on the Western Front is anything but quiet. Explosions are as unpredictable as one's mood swings in...