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Glory Versus the Realities of War

Autor:   •  August 17, 2017  •  1,335 Words (6 Pages)  •  258 Views

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Soldiers who fight in war are profoundly and permanently altered by their experience.

When Paul goes home on a six week leave from the front, he realizes how much he has changed. He is engulfed with: “A terrible feeling of foreignness suddenly rises up in me. I cannot find my way back … I sit there and the past withdraws itself” (7.172). One can see from this that Paul does not cope well with returning home to his previous lifestyle. He finds himself disconnected from his family and his neighbors. He is also tormented with the fact that they can not understand the experiences he has been through. While Paul was on the front, he was “indifferent and often hopeless,” but now after coming home on leave, he only feels heart-wrenched. Later on, Paul visits Kemmerich’s mother to inform her of her son’s death and she is immediately filled with grief. Paul wonders, “When a man has so many dead he cannot understand any longer why there should be so much anguish over a single individual” (7.181). Even though Paul has suffered through many deaths of other comrades, the war has caused him to feel numb, mentally and emotionally. In this scene, Paul grows impatient and does not want to be affected by the despair of Kemmerich’s mother. His only thoughts are of the war and nothing else besides it. he offers the thought: “Had we returned home in 1916, out of the suffering and the strength of our experience, we might have unleashed a storm. Now if we go back we will be weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope … the years will pass by and in the end we shall fall out into ruin” (12.294). The passage highlights the theme of lost generation of the novel. The stages from adolescent to adulthood when one is likely to be developing their identity, is ultimately shattered. Paul has survived the long and brutal experiences of the war. As a man and a soldier, he appears strong and tough, but he has lost his youth and innocence. He comes to realization that when it is peacetime, he’ll eventually have to move on from the past and to continue on with his life. The author shows that the destroyed lives shall be a permanent memory for many soldiers, that what was destroyed on the front cannot be fixed.

As the war continues, Paul loses his identity and his purpose in life. The horrifying weaponry and trench warfare traumatized many soldiers. Through the author, readers are able to know how the war had impacted many lives. As a reader, one can understand the consequences of being in war and how they’ve resulted in dehumanization. All Quiet on the Western Front depicts the past and future of men that they are rejecting and yearning both of.


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