Demolition of a Soul: "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque.

Essay by aykutcUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, January 2006

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Written by Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front" is considered to be one of the most genuine and true to life war novels ever created. However, the main reason this classic novel is a notch above the rest is the astonishing ability of Remarque to illustrate how the war destroyed a soldier to the point of emotional paralysis, and how it disintegrated the very soul of a man.

Let the months and years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without fear. The life that has borne me through these years is still in my hands and my eyes. Whether I have subdued it, I know not. But so long as it is there it will seek its own way out, heedless of the will that is within me.

The last words of the novel's main character, Paul Baumer, who once was a compassionate and sensitive young man, entirely reflects the gruesome effects of the war on a soldier. From the beginning of the novel, Remarque carefully sets the tone so that the emotional impact of the finale on the reader is undeniable. As he states in the foreword, he simply tries "to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war". From that perspective, the book is merely a retelling of events that destroy Paul and thousands of other young men mentally, rather than physically.

In the early chapters, Remarque introduces Paul as a compassionate, sensitive, and a family loving teenager who loved to write poetry. Paul sees the war as an adventurous experience and perceives it as an honorable way of defending his country, and...