Essay Over The Book "All Quiet On The Western Front"

1074 words - 4 pages

Social Power Brings CorruptionThe two most prominent social classes in the World War I novel, "All Quiet on the Western Front" are categorized from the lowest social, the platoon leader and the military officials to the highest social class, the Kaiser. The thesis of this paper is that two extreme class levels bring corruption and social disorder which Remarque points out directly in the actions of the officials and the higher order.The bottom level of social class represented in "All Quiet on the Western Front" is the platoon leader. He is given a group of soldiers to train. In addition to training, his abusive authority was quite astonishing as the author points out. One of the main authority figures in the novel is Corporal Himmelstoss. He trained the newly enlisted soldiers in the ways of war. He is described as resembling Louis Napoleon in the novel; "a small undersized fellow with a foxy, waxed mustache." (Remarque 23). Immediately the description of Himelstoss triggers an image of a short, power-hungry figure. In each social level an authority figure emerges and sets them apart from the rest. His image is further emphasized in the statement, "He had a special dislike of Kropp, Tjaden, Weshus, and me, because he sensed a quiet defiance." (Remarque 23) Himmelstoss's dislikes for these soldiers is not directly related to the fact that he supposedly, "sensed defiance," but more so to his will to misuse his authority in ways that resulted in the soldiers lack of respect. His actions show that his social class level is represented in his actions and attitude towards his troops. He focuses his efforts on Tjaden, the "skinny locksmith...who is and always will be as thin as a rake." (Remarque 2-3). To make up for his lack of size and strength, Himmelstoss attacks the thinnest soldier of the group, who he assumes to be the weakest. However, when Himmelstoss loses his position of authority, he is not so brave. In the front, during the invasion, Paul Baumer finds Himmelstoss in the dug-out, "pretending to be wounded...his face looks sullen...he is in panic...his mustache twitches." (Remarque 131). His action show how his corrupted attitude lead him to nowhere in the real world. Himmelstoss's position in this social class now falls from highest to the ground level with the other soldiers. Not only was Cpl Himmelstoss's level in society higher than that of his soldiers but he too had to answer to the next level up the chain of command held by the military officials.The military officials had a higher level of social class status, which came with and increased level of corruption and an increased level of consequence rather than that of Himmelstoss. Himmelstoss may have instigated hostility, even hatred, fro his platoon, but the corruption of a higher military official may result in more than hatred, more severe consequences, such as casualties. For example in a desperate effort to continue the attack on France, mass drafts occur, and the military...

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