All Quiet On The Western Front Essay

1254 words - 6 pages

Norman Schwarzkof once said, “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of the men to go into battle”. As young adults, many of us have a preconceived notion that being a hero is in some way the same as being a leader. In times of war, being a leader defines ones as a superior that others look to for guidance and direction in predicaments; not necessarily a hero. The true heroes are not always the ones calling the shots, but the soldiers who courageously leave their comforts behind to fight on the fronts for their country, even if it results in their death. In All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque, describes the journey of a young ...view middle of the document...

After the sight of the first death, Paul was already impacted mentally when he realized that the older men, who taught them duty’s to one’s country is the greatest thing, were already aware that the impacts of death are stronger psychologically. Paul and his classmates knew of their love for their country was as strong as the older men, but when distinguishing truth from false, once they learned, they could not help but feel the world slipping through their fingers.
Now that Paul is able to differentiate the rhetoric told from his school from reality, he is more cognizant of how older men’s declaration of war has affected the younger generations’ outlook on being on the front physically and mentally. Paul and his comrades realized they are within the front’s embrace when they see the blacken smoke of guns and fire, smell the prominent fumes of powder, and hear the distant screeching from the injured and dying enemies piercing through their ears. These details have impacted Paul and his comrades mentally when they see themselves not as young anymore, but feel through these experiences they have been molded to older men, “’We are the Iron Youth.’ . . .Iron Youth! Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folks” (18). Through older men’s declaration of war, Paul and his comrades are faced with horrors that no one should ever have to encounter, especially someone younger than twenty. Paul and his comrades are faced daily with the threat of possible injury or death. They realize in order to survive, they are going to have to fight and mostly likely endure artillery injury. In order to accomplish this physical and mental consternation, they begin to see themselves not as young men, but as older and wiser soldiers.
When older men declare war, they do not realize the extensiveness of asking young soldiers to grow up into men and how that can affect them physically and mentally. Leaving one’s innocence behind to grow up into a man does not guarantee one’s safety. In a battle in Russia, Paul is faced with the decision of to kill to remain from sight or to be killed. Paul makes the rash decision to physically kill the man. When examining the dead body, Paul discovers that the man had a wife and a child and is effected mentally instantly when Paul becomes engulf with sorrow and guilt. Moreover, Paul loses sight of why he is fighting the war. Heroism? Germany? Comrades? Paul realizes this man is just like himself, “’Why do they never tell us that you...

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