All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the most renowned novels about war written by Erich Maria Remarque. In this heartbreaking, complicated story, the author dwells on the atrocities and meaninglessness of war that takes not only life but also the ability to be happy. It is the story about the loss of hope even when the war is over, as the horrible memories and experiences cannot be simply left behind – they become part of a personality, tearing it apart and continuously torturing it. In the book, Remarque touched upon several main themes related to war, such as the lost generation, betrayal, inhumanity, and comradeship, which are discussed in detail in this essay.
Remarque has no illusions regarding the war. He knows that it is a powerful force that ruins everything on its way including people’s lives and chances to be happy someday. The author highlights that millions of men who fought during the war have become the “lost generation” because they have no hopes for the future and no physical and emotional strength to carry on. They might have escaped death, but they could not escape their life-changing experience that made them disillusioned, depressed, and useless. Throughout the story, the author tells readers about many young men who were injured in the battle and could no longer live normal lives or become valuable members of their society. Others who managed to escape wounds were wounded in their minds and souls, as they were haunted by the horrible memories of their friends dying in the meaningless and brutal war. There were millions of Paul Bäumers who came home and could not find ways to build normal, happy lives.
One of the reasons why young people felt disillusioned and lost was the strong feeling of betrayal. They were betrayed by their families who could not prepare them for this appalling experience, and they certainly could not forgive those parents who encouraged them to participate. Notably, Remarque emphasizes that while poor and uneducated people knew that the war would bring only death and destruction, wealthier families were filled with pride and joy that their sons will join the fight. Teachers who should have protected young people also encouraged them to go to war, although they apparently knew little about all the dangers and consequences of such a decision. Finally, military leaders betrayed soldiers in their own way, using them as a soulless combative force that has no value and no feelings.
The main literary and historical value of Remarque’s novel is its detailed and impressive description of suffering and inhumanity happening in the battles. He is not afraid of describing the wounds and misery of those sent to the front and shows how young men manage the situation. The author makes it clear that there is no beauty of dignity in war – it is the continuous fight for one’s life, absolute fear, misery, suffering, and pain. It forces people to watch their friends die and makes this experience part of their lives. In some way, surviving the war means little for this lost generation, as they become dead inside, killed by corroding inhumanity and indifference.
The only thing that seems to bring meaning to young soldiers’ lives is friendship. Indeed, comradeship is what seems to support people like Paul Bäumer, as it shows that there is still something good in people. Comrades are united by the shared experience, and their communion is much stronger than that uniting lovers or family members. The fact that they have someone to talk to, someone who understands their feelings and fear is invaluable in this ongoing circle of death. In this way, one may summarize that Remarque managed to describe the complex issues and experiences related to the war, which made his novel extremely humane and intense.
This All Quiet on the Western Front essay sample focuses on the main themes described in the novel. Specifically, the author explores how Remarque depicted war through the themes of lost generation, betrayal, inhumanity, and comradeship.
Remarque, Erich Maria. (2008). All quiet on the Western front. E. Bloom (Ed.). New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.