In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque progressively shows the brutality of war through the eyes of soldiers claiming their innocence, and also the effects of war on the people in the home front . In this essay I will be discussing the effect of war on both the combatants and non combatants in this novel. Remarque cleverly illustrates what men at the front go through in war, he describe how quickly soldiers realise the reality of war. We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers – we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals,” In this quote, Paul describes what was going through his fellow soldiers and his mind as they enter the war. Remarque also writes that soldier in the war is being dehumanised, the word “automatons”was used to describe the soldiers suggesting that they have been turned into a robot like figure being programmed to only kill the opponent.
Food is a strong theme in this novel, Remarque has illustrated significant events to show effects of war to the soldiers through the theme of food. “We sit opposite one another, Kat and I, two soldiers in shabby coats, cooking a goose in the middle of the night. We don’t talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have … The grease drips from our hands, in our hearts we are close to one another … we sit with a goose between us and feel in unison, are so intimate that we do not even speak. this quote suggests how important it is to connect with comrades as they are the only people you have around you, to depend on. The moment described in the quote shows a very strong relationship between Paul and Kat, it is described in a way that friendship between them is silent, unlike the war which is totally opposite. Remarque shows a very strong effect of war on the soldier and also on the family member back home, the civilians of home front.
Remarque shows how Paul returning home has made him feel distanced and doesn’t feel belonged in his surrounding. there is my mother, there is my sister, there is this glass case with my butterflies, there is the piano, but I am not quite there myself yet. ” this quote clearly shows how Paul feels about coming back home, where he feels like a stranger, he has left home for war for so long that he couldn’t find his inner self and his family that he left before heading off to war. During his leave, Paul’s most striking realisation of losing connection with his past was when he was in his room alone at his parent’s house. After being unsuccessful by speaking ith his mother and his father and his father’s friends,he tries to find all of his old stuff to make him feel more comfortable and more like home. He finds his old post cards, picture, his old leather sofa, but the one thing that made him feel different was his old schoolbooks, which made him feel older, and less army like, more into his future, his dreams instead of the trenches. “ I want that quiet rapture again. I want to feel the same powerful, nameless urge that I used to feel when I turned to my books.
The breath of desire that then arose from the colored backs of the books, shall fill me again, melt the heavy, dead lump of lead that lies somewhere in me and waken again the impatience of the future, the quick joy in the world of thought, it shall bring back again the lost eagerness of my youth. I sit and wait. ” Remarque describes the home front almost like a audience of the war, wanting to know hear stories and just wanting to learn everything about it, they might hear great, glorifying stories, but the truth is war is nothing but disgusting and deadly. he encountered his old German-master, who stopped him and insisted that he join a few other men and talk about the war. One of the men told him that a foot-soldier couldn’t understand the grand scheme of the war, and could only understand his limited duty. Paul thought being on leave would be different, but the war has changed him too much to just return home as if nothing was happening. He is happier alone, away from the people he no longer understands.
He is attracted and repelled by normal civilian life all at the same time, and ultimately can only think of his comrades back at the front. ” In conclusion, I believe that war has changed every men at the front, it has dehumanised each and everyone of them, they might be known as heroes who scarifies their life to fight for the glory of the nation at home, but no one at home can imagine what those innocent young soldiers go through every single day in those horrible, devastating trenches, fighting for something that they don’t even know.