Themes In All Quiet On The Western Front

1109 words - 5 pages

Sixty-five million soldiers were mobilized during World War I (World War I Statistics). That is sixty-five million men that were stripped from their families and lives. Thirty-seven million of those sixty-five million did not return from battle (World War I Statistics). A majority of those men have been forgotten. Many World War I novels have been written to preserve the memory of soldiers, which bring up several interesting themes that people around the world can learn from. In Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, readers see the prevailing themes of the horror and brutality of war, the importance of camaraderie, and the loss of innocence.
One theme evident in All Quiet on the Western Front is the horror and brutality of war. The soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front knew that if they survive the war, returning back to their homes would not be easy. Kropp expressed: “It will go pretty hard with us all. But nobody at home seems to worry much about it. Two years of shells and bombs-a man won’t peel that off as easy as a sock….the war has ruined us for everything” (Remarque 87). Kropp recognized that the images of war would never leave him. If the soldiers made it home, they would be isolated. Their families and friends did not experience the cruelty of war so they would not understand. After the war, life for soldiers would never be the same. Baumer also spoke of how automated the soldiers had become: “If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb at him” (114). The war has made the soldiers immune to feelings. They are trained to fight, so that is what their lives have become. They have experienced so much killing and death that they do not have time to feel sorry for every wounded man. However, Baumer was filled with guilt when he killed his first rival in hand-to-hand combat. He spoke: “But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship....If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother just like Kat and Albert” (223). When Baumer first stabbed the man, he felt no emotion. He was trained to behave this way. Baumer did not process how much of an impact he made until it was too late. This man had a family just like Baumer did, and Baumer removed a member of that household. Remarque clearly wished to show readers how horrible and brutal World War I was through All Quiet on the Western Front.
Not only did Remarque show the horror and brutality of war, but he also illustrated the power of camaraderie. Such as when Kat and Paul had extra food left over from their feast of geese, they took it to Tjaden and Kropp who were under open arrest. The friends were going to save the extra geese, but then thought of their comrades (96). They were always looking out for each other and having each other’s back. The soldiers also became great friends. Baumer felt...

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