Brutality of War in Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
The battleground is stained with blood. Tommies are firing, bombs are dropping left and right, and people all around are dying. Young men, who were once eager to join the war for God and country, are now contemplating why they were so quick in making the ultimate sacrifice, just to defend their country. After many hard and cruel months of death, famine, and life in the shadows, even the toughest of men and the most cheerful can be flipped upside down. Many soldiers had come into this war with valor and pride for their country and to bring pride to their family but only a few soldiers made it out alive. Many of these soldiers' moral values had changed during the war. Paranoia and the fear of death were just as dangerous as the guns on the battlefield. Unlike other books that were written about The Great War, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque explained the war based on his own war experience which influenced him to show the realistic inhumane brutality by painting a graphic scene for the readers through his own protagonist, Paul Bäumer.
All Quiet on the Western Front followed the story of a young soldier named Paul who enlisted voluntarily at a young age, with many others, to fight for his country. But why did so may volunteer? Volunteers were many young men who had believed that Germany would be the face of Europe and would have total control of Europe. Those who didn’t volunteer faced peer pressure from not only their family and friends but the press as well. They were publicly ridiculed and insulted for their lack of manliness (Thacker). Once Paul got to the Front, we begin to understand the true horrors of The Great War. Living in the trenches was the definition of living hell. The men had to survive by eating rations and then when those ran out, they resulted to eating rats just to survive. When soldiers died, they were tossed to the side and stripped down of all of their clothing. At the beginning of Remarque’s novel, he wrote:
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 (Erich Maria Remarque’s Introduction).
Remarque explained how being at the front had transformed people. The innocence and eagerness to join the war disappeared completely whilst fighting. Being at the Front, many soldiers would experience artillery shells daily falling on and around them. There had been cases where the shells were misfires as well from the same side (i.e. British shells intended for Germans falling onto the British side). John Simkin had estimated that on average for the British soldiers, 75,000 were killed by accidental artillery mishaps (Third paragraph). Erich Maria Remarque also took the opportunity to introduce the various ty...