War Equals Change

Essay by shuskyHigh School, 11th gradeA, May 2004

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War is a devastating concept that hurts people both physically and mentally. Paul Baumer, in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, is an example of this inner turmoil caused by the First World War. Paul changes in his personality, his attitude towards his home-life, his attitude towards war, and his attitude towards death, which causes him to give up in the end.

Throughout the novel, Remarque takes Paul, the main character from an optimistic romantic to a cynical soldier, to someone who looks forward to the peace found in death. At the beginning of the novel, Paul is a very optimistic person who looks forward to the simpler activities in life. He even finds beauty in the act of going to the bathroom in a group. Paul explains, "We feel ourselves for the time being better off than in any palatial white tiled 'convenience'. There it can only be hygienic; here it is beautiful" (Remarque, 13).

The author makes this statement seem almost elegant with the short phrasing, and words such as 'palatial', and 'beautiful'. Also, he uses the term "white-tiled convenience'. This shows Paul's view of society as being clean-cut, and complex. The term 'white-tiled' brings to mind the thought of a society that never gets soiled and that is always the same. It shows that Paul enjoys the simpler events in life such as being out-of-doors with his friends, with none of the complications of everyday society. Paul is, at this time, a hopeless romantic who enjoys simplicity, however, as the war progresses he turns into a hardened veteran whose out look is not so positive. His outlook on life changes, and he thinks: "I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I...