The Damaging Effects Of War: About The War Novel "All Quiet On The Western Front".

820 words - 3 pages

If a normal person had to walk into a morgue and look at a corpse, he or she would most likely be sickened. Yet, if that same person was a mortician who works with corpses everyday, he or she would probably not be disgusted at all because unlike the normal person, the mortician has become detached from those natural feelings of disgust. In much the same way, this same thing happens to the WWI soldiers described in Erich Maria Remarque's novel, "All Quiet on the Western Front". However, these soldiers are forced to do a job slightly more gruesome than that of the mortician. Not only do these soldiers 'work' with dead bodies, but they must also do the killing as well. Even worse, they are faced with other brutalities: constant bombardments on the front lines, pieces of their comrades flying past them, and painful bullet wounds left untreated. Could anything other than a beastly animal survive that? Furthermore, the loss of feeling these soldiers must experience in order to survive the war harms them permanently.Human beings naturally live and interact with each other on a wide range of different emotions. So when one is forced to ignore and eventually forget all emotions, his or her life simply will never be the same again. This is exactly what happens to the central character, Paul. Paul explains, "We want to live at any price; so we cannot burden ourselves with feelings, which, though they might be ornamental enough in peacetime, would be out of place here" (139). Clearly, he is already on the path to significantly changing his life forever because there is no place in life, peacetime or wartime, where one can truly disregard all feeling and still be emotionally normal. Paul proves this to himself after the war, as he thinks aloud, "You are at home, you are at home, but I cannot feel at home amongst these things. There is my mother, there is my sister, there is my case of butterflies, and the mahogany piano--but I am not myself there" (160). The emotional damage that the war has brought Paul is here to stay.The loss of feeling these soldiers are forced to experience causes not only emotional damage, but also lasting psychological damage. As the soldiers are forced to forget everything they knew before the war and go on to know only death and survival tactics, they have their own kind of war going on in...

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