Bloodier Than Fiction Essay

1615 words - 6 pages

Children are often raised to believe in child delivery by storks, Santa, and other fictions that mask the complexity of the adult world. However harmless these lies may be, these are lies nonetheless and have the potential to imbalance an individual when they discover the truth. Like the lies that are used to deceive naïve children, propaganda was used to deceive naïve soldiers into sacrificing their lives for World War I. World War I (WWI) was the first international-scale military conflict of its kind, fought between the Central and Allied Powers. The advent of modernized weaponry on the Western Front made killing more rampant, miserable, and impersonal. Huge armies were amassed on either side as a result of nationalism and alliances, which were motivating factors in the countries’ participation in war. However, the personal suffering of soldiers in WWI, as illustrated by Eric Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, was not justified by the alliances or nationalism that were the driving causes of the conflict.
The physical suffering of the soldier was perhaps the most conspicuous cost of the war, shown by the frightening gore and swaths of dead and dying bodies littering No-Man’s-Land. Many soldiers believed that fighting for their country would be brave and victorious, as spun by nationalistic poets and artists alike prior to WWI. Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front replaces these romantic images of war with butchery; the individual soldier was maimed regardless of the country that ‘lost’ the war. Depictions of such suffering in Remarque’s novel include horses tripping upon their own intestines, still-living men with their brains showing through their skulls, and other atrocities that bring into question a human being’s limits of survival. Revolting provisions and the hours spent in squalid ditches corrupted their innards with disease and infection. Upon seeing the unbearable agony of injured soldiers, Paul Baumer from All Quiet on the Western Front remarks “a hospital alone shows what war is” (Remarque 262). This demonstrates that the suffering of soldiers in the hospital is so prevalent that the Paul associates it exclusively in the meaning of ‘war’. The quote also implies that the Paul does not realize dreams of glory or nobility in fighting for ones country.
Physical injury was by no means the only damages suffered by the soldiers. By the time Paul is gunned down in All Quiet on the Western Front, he is already a dead man, killed not by bullets or infection but by the strain accumulated from merely experiencing war. Witnessing horrific deaths and hardship on the front line repeatedly traumatizes Paul and his fellow classmates. The young soldiers are scarred permanently because they have no past lives to strengthen their resolve or sanity. While lying in his tent, Paul observes with alarm “how slight is his support, how thin the boundary that divides him from darkness” (275). This quote implies that even in times of safety,...

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