All Quiet on the Western Front. Theme of Humanity

Essay by paulkimCollege, UndergraduateA, October 2004

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All Quiet On The Western Front

In All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, a profoundly horrific image of war is formed in the eyes of the reader. In the past, War stories leaned toward themes of glory, adventure, and honor. In presenting his realistic version of a soldier's experience, Remarque strips away the glory of war and reveals the physical and mental hardships of war. Throughout his book, a plethora of themes are emphasized and brought to light. Among those themes are deception, camaraderie, and propaganda, but the prevailing theme seems to be maintaining one's humanity. The theme of humanity is readily prevalent throughout the novel, and can be tied in with the loss of innocence, fear, and ultimately the emergence of courage. During All Quiet on the Western Front, the main character Paul who is only nineteen, is faced with the atrocities of war which take a toll on his humanity.

The results of war possess the ability to destroy whatever humanity is left in a man. Through Remarque's use of imagery, the reader can see the terrible effect of the war on Paul. Throughout the book, Paul Baumer, the main character, experiences many changes. In the beginning, Paul's schoolmaster Kantorek idealistically describes the glories of war. It is Kantorek's rhetoric on the ideals of patriotism that lead Paul and his classmates to enlist in the war full of optimism, eagerness, and a strong sense of nationalism. In a letter written to his classmates, he calls them "Iron Youth," implying that they are hard, strong, and resilient. However, Kantorek fails to consider the horrors Paul and his classmates experience and the constant state of anxiety and fear they endure. However, as the war progresses, many factors and events cause Paul to transform into...