All Quiet on the Western Front Essay
All Quiet on the Western Front
Paul Baumer’s experiences of the war transforms him into someone of whom some may describes as lacking in expression, immoral, and maybe even a systematic automaton. These traits are often emphasized throughout his duty in World War II and are even furthermore supported through harsh traumatic incidents. But like all young adults, his innocent mind was concealed from the true face of war, and before such time, he was like any other teenage boy. It is evident that he was particularly interested in school and would sometime recollects back to his regular life, such as things “that [is]at home in the draws of [his] writing table lies the beginning of a play called ‘Saul’ and a bundle of poems” (19).
However, once he joined the army, he lose all sight of such pleasure and as the global conflict drags on deeper, his range of expression begins to narrowed into what was only necessary, and his daily routine soon becomes systematic. He changes so much that he ceased to see the light of all things, and his thoughts and actions soon turns into that of immoral kinds. However, even though the darkness of war soon engulfs most of his conscience, there still lies a small light of hope, the light of his genuine human soul.
Many cannot realize the terror war brings, and often, the soldiers are the one who are the most affected. The journey endured in combat can draws one’s hopes out and input fear and reinstall the human instincts as one thinks purely of survival. But unlike most, Paul began such journey at a very young age, and was not yet ready to experience the world. He has yet to even see the real world, but quickly jumps into the middle of the world’s largest conflict. The training camp was the first step to the extraction of his personality. After weeks of preparations for the front, Paul and his friend soon realized that “what matters is not the mind but the boot brush, not intelligence but the system, not freedom but the drill” (22).
The boys soon divert back to their ancestor’s state of mind, an era where survival of the whole is the first priority while anything else comes afterwards. Beneath the wall of apathy Paul has built up, there still exists a spark of humanity. Paul can still feel things like grief and over the death of friends like Kat, where Paul is stunned to learn that Kat is dead, “Do I walk? Have I feet still?” Paul’s emotions, although restricted, are still there. Paul tries to preserve himself and his soul throughout the war in the hopes of making the world a better place. Although he knows that he probably won’t succeed in his goals because he and the rest of his generation are so beat down by the loss and horror of war, “…we will grow older, a few will adapt themselves, some others will merely submit, and most will be bewildered; the years will pass by and we shall fall into ruin” the fact that he still hopes and cares, “But perhaps all this that I think is mere melancholy and dismay, which will fly away… enough to want to fix the problems that started this war and maybe even prevent others from going through this ever again” shows that even at the worst of times, shows that Paul manages to preserve his humanity (294).
In another occasion such as when one of his comrade, Kemmerich, dies, he channeled his thoughts toward the justification of Muller claiming his soon deceased friend’s boots. Although Paul did express some sympathy towards his dying friend, it seems almost artificial as he quickly turned his attention towards a more important matter, at least in his mind, the matter of Kemmerich’s belongings. He begins to speculates about who should claim what and should they really be claiming it. Of course, the rule of survival conjures up in his mind, and he remembered that “…the boots [were] quite inappropriate to Kemmerich’s circumstances, whereas Muller [could] make good use of them” (21).
He even went further to justify the claim by stating that, “we have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts area real and important for us. And good boots are scarce” (21). This presents a concept derived from the war, in which personal thoughts and individualism is limited and physical survival is accentuates. In a indirect way, his last thought depicts the barbarism of war, that way Man steps back in development and his conscience becomes simple; he only view upon on his needs and nothing else. For war is a two sided coin, with one side, the objective is seen as the motive, while on the other side, a sacrifice must be made to achieve the objective.
But ignorantly, we ignore the mean and only focus upon the end. We hope that our actions, the vision of our “better world” will be achieved, and that the world will become more peaceful. But our efforts are in vain, and our hope is nothing more than a child’s dream. War is a cycle, of which will never end. It’s there to resolve problems momentary. It’s there to break us down, and remind us that we are nothing more than savages who seek power and land. What others may see as normal and moral may be view differently by those who is not in their position. Frequently throughout Paul’s journey as a soldier, his actions were often viewed upon as immoral; in that he gave little thoughts to his action, almost to the extent that he could not think of the situation any other way. In a specific incident, one of his younger comrade was badly wounded and would eventually die, so he and Kate agreed upon that “[they] ought to put him out of his misery” (72).
Many of a third perspective may deem that as inhuman, to shoot some just to shorten their pain. Perhaps in his view, he was helping the poor lad by ending what would be a week or so of hell before he dies. But such thoughts may lead one to wonder if he may even think himself as a being greater than other, one who is has the authority to decide for the life of another. Humans are defined by our extension of complex thinking and our ability to empathize another. But in this case, Paul has yet to know how the pain of being severely injured, and only thought upon his assumptions. If he was in any other position, his first normal reaction may have been to carry that boy to the nearest help.
As the war drags him into more the intensified front, he soon comes across “[young recruits] flock together like sheep instead of scattering, and even wounded are shot down like hares by airmen” (130). He sees some died right in front of him and some who runs out due to claustrophobia. However, in none of these occasions did he mourn for the dead, or even consider emotions such as sadness and sympathy. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he may have encountered numerous of such sight. When Paul sees the young recruits being kill due to lack of experience, he
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 March 2017
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