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The Invisible Trauma Of War Exposed In All Quiet On The Western Front

1264 words - 5 pages

Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, transpires in the trenches of the Nazi Western Front, which is protected by the young German soldiers World War I. Paul Bäumer, the narrator; enters the war under pressure to enlist; goes to the front and learns about the brutality of war. Paul witnesses the extreme violence that defines war during his time spent on the Western Front. Bäumer and his cronies learn to except the war as part of their lives, but the pains of battle which tear the young soldiers apart inside never leave. When these armed men return to normal civilization, disappointment strikes deep in their hearts as the ignorance of those not in the war reveals itself. The now savage killing machines can no longer relate to everyday society. The common populace knows not of the harsh realities of war, and for this reason they innocently talk as though the fighting and killing that characterizes the seemingly eternal siege, possesses some glorifying reward. The people who have not been forced to look into the eyes of a dying comrade, whose legs have torn off due to the shrapnel of a mortar, can not sympathize with the broken hearts of the soldiers. They only visualize a possibly strenuous battle resulting in few casualties and from which their troops emerge elated and victorious. The soldiers on the front lines actually experience events, which scar their minds with thoughts of death and destruction. Remarque displays these ideas of pain and suffering through ignorance, fear, and inhumanity.
Remarque depicts the misconception of war, by capturing the unknowingness that prevents those not fighting the war, from understanding the truth about war’s hideous reality. Ignorance, one of the many facets of the people’s general understanding of war, causes the formation of a gap between the soldiers and the rest of society. “ But my father would rather I kept my uniform on so that he could take me to visit his acquaintances.” (pg.164) Paul states that he has no desire to wear a uniform that represents the unfathomable death and destruction of the war. Paul’s father can not comprehend the fact that the uniform means more than loyalty, bravery, and honor. He perfectly exemplifies the attitude of the majority of civilians; they are blinded by their pride and confidence and can not visualize war’s devastating effect on the soldiers. “He wants me to tell him about the front; he is curious in a way that I find stupid and distressing; I no longer have any real contact with him.” (pg.165).  Paul reiterates his feelings about the war and its separating effects in a subsequent quote, Bäumer once again uses his father to represent the whole of society oblivious to the trained killing machines that once lived as regularly operating beings. The inexplicable ignorance of the civilians continues to reveal itself as another person, this time his German-master approaches him with comments, which display that the people know nothing about...

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