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Storm Of Steel Reading Response Essay

1936 words - 8 pages

Storm of Steel provides a memoir of the savagery and periods of beauty that Ernst Jünger’s experienced while serving the German army during the First World War. Though the account does not take a clear stand, it lacks any embedded emotional effects or horrors of the Great War that left so few soldiers who survived unaffected. Jünger is very straightforward and does remorse over any of his recollections. The darkness of the hallucinations Jünger reports to have experienced provides subtle anti-war sentiment. However, in light of the descriptive adventures he sought during the brief moments of peace, the darkness seems to be rationalized as a sacrifice any soldier would make for duty and honor in a vain attempt for his nation’s victory. The overall lack of darkness and Jünger’s nonchalance about the brutality of war is enough to conclude that the account in Storm of Steel should be interpreted as a “pro” war novel; however, it should not be interpreted as “pro” violence or death.
Jünger’s opening chapter recalls the enthusiastic first thoughts on entering the war, upon arrival in Champagne, “Grown up in an age of security, we shared a yearning for danger, for the experience of the extraordinary. We were enraptured by war .” Though the illusion was soon dispelled, throughout the novel Jünger did not seem to be phased by the reality of his mission. When Jünger described reaching Orainville, he wrote, “We saw only a few, ragged, shy civilians; everywhere eels soldiers in worn tattered tunics, with faces weather-beaten and often with a heavy growth of beard, strolling along at a slow pace, or standing in little clusters in doorways, watching our arrival with ribald remarks .” This is Jünger’s first of a pattern of accounts in the novel where he only reports the way things were without adding any emotion. Someone who was “anti” war might describe remorse for the war-ravaged civilians, though we will see later that Jünger has a limit to the amount of grief a civilian should undertake.
In Champagne, Jünger relates a bravery that, despite injury and brutal images, does not fade throughout the war. Jünger writes about the men around him who “seemed to cower while running at full pelt, as though under some frightful threat. The whole thing struck me as… ridiculous…seeing people doing things one doesn’t fully understand .” He recalls his own humor toward trench warfare and his sense of fearlessness, describing “boredom in the trenches as more enervating for the soldier than the proximity of death .” Jünger describes numerous accounts of physical injuries, including his own, as well as encounters with the dead and dying, however these are always very straightforward descriptions. He writes that he and his comrades “…pinned our hopes on an attack… .” His greatest remorse was for “…the incessant trench-digging ” that was unnecessary and overtiring. Even in light of gas attacks, Jünger “occasionally left [his mask] behind in [his]...

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