All Quiet on the Western Front Critique In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque, writes of the reality of war, and its psychological impact on the soldiers that lived through WWI. Through his character Paul Baumer, we see how the cruelty, chaos, and violence of War, can begin to degenerate his state of mind. All Quiet on the Western Front, is the story of Paul Baumer during World War I. Paul Baumer is a German student in high school when he and his friends join the War after being persuaded by one of their teachers Kantor ek. Our narrator starts out as any brand new soldier, trying to see what goes on. The first example of the cruelty of War for Baumer, was when his friend Josef Be hm, was killed shortly after they began their new lives as soldiers.
The death that brought out the coldness of War to Baumer was the death of his friend Franz Kemmerich whose leg was first amputated, and finally dies. Baumer eventually goes through the death of every one of his fellow soldiers and friends, telling us about everything he goes through seeing his friends being victims of War. Baumer s best friend was Katczinsky who was the leader of their unit, although Baumer had grown stronger and had become a real soldier and practically heartless, Katczinsky s death at the end of the book was the death that Paul Baumer could not bear. Every time one of Baumer s friends would die a piece of him would also be lost, which physiologically led to his own death. Throughout the book Remarque, tells us about the real meaning of War. His character Paul Baumer gives the slightest details and the most complex understanding of War.
One of the most meaningful aspects of War that Remarque, brings out is when Kemmerich is dieing from his amputated foot and another of Baumer s friend, Muller, is asking for his boots when he dies. That part really brings out how up straight and cold War can turn people into, and Baumer had to accept that Muller was thinking logically rather than being selfish and Inconsiderate. Remarque more clearly states it when, Muller has seen Kemmerich s boots he matches their soles against his own clumsy boots and says Will you be taking them with you Franz? . This shows how the human state of mind degenerates while at War Front.
Baumer starts out as a kind, normal human being from a good family. He always glorified his school days that he spent with his friends and family, and states We were trained in the army for 10 weeks and in this time more profoundly influenced than by ten years at school. Which had made him mature a lot faster than the average youth, because of the cruelty and harshness he had faced in War. Baumer who started out as a man questioning War and whether it is ethical or not, eventually grows to kill a man, as he did kill Gerald Duval a French Compositor, a Printer.
Although, he did feel sorry for killing him, he soon forgets about it and becomes more brutal. Again illustrating the War Front only does worse for the Human mind. The Book uses all of these examples to show us the difference between life and death, and being happy and unhappy. Remarque uses the pattern of life and death throughout the book. Every time the soldiers are at rest and start to think about the meaning of life, and remember that there is more to life than War and fierce battle, such as girls, family and other un-War related things, they must start fighting again. This establishes the contradiction between life and death.
Even when Baumer is sent home he tells us that I bite into my pillow. I gasp the iron rods of my bed with my fists. I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless, I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end.
I ought never to come here on leave. He tells us through his emotions how War has permanently changed him, and how his family life will never have meaning for him again. Remarque does a great job, putting us on the War Front. The complex characteristics of Paul Baumer bring out the smallest details of what happens in the book and in real War.
It truly shows what each and every soldier involved in War goes through, and how they lose compassion and their minds stop thinking normally. Throughout the War he lets us in on the secret emotions that go through every soldiers mind in War. As we see Baumer starts to degenerate after his friend Kemmerich dies. He gradually starts to become a more internally cold hearted person, every time one of his friends would die, a big piece of Baumer would also be lost. That s why Baumer s death wasn t physically explained to us, but War had definitely destroyed his soul.