All Quiet on the Western Front is a book written by Erich Maria Remarkque. It was a book written to reflect the human cost of war. It shows us how war has a hidden face that most people do not see until it is too late. In the novel, he describes a group of young men who at first think war is glorious. But as the war drags on, the group discovers how war is not all it is set out to be. As the war went on, they saw their friends either die or be permanently wounded. Then the end comes when there was only one person left.
All Quiet on the Western Front takes place in Germany where a group of young boys are first encouraged to join the military. Thinking that it would be a great adventure, they enlisted, not knowing the fate that lies before them. At first, the group is sent to training. They aren’t in a serious mood, thinking that war conditions aren’t as bad as they really are. When the boys are sent to the front, it is only then when they start to realize how war is not great. This is when the boys are cramped into the trenches. Some of the soldiers were shell-shocked because of the constant bombardment. When one of the boys was wounded, he was taken to a hospital where there were many wounded soldiers. Some soldiers had to have parts of their bodies amputated in order to survive. When Kemmerich was in the hospital, Müller ask for his pair of boots. The boots was a visible reminder to the boys of the cost of war. Paul then has to face his own conscience when he kills one of the Frenchmen. He doesn’t see the face of an enemy but just a face of another human being. He tries to comfort himself by promising to help the fallen soldier’s family. After Paul is relieved from the front line, he decides to go on leave and return home. But when he tries to tell everyone of the horrible conditions of the trenches, everybody either laughs him off or calls him a coward. Paul returns before his leave actually ended, wishing that he had never come home. In the end, when Paul loses Kat, Paul realizes that the war has destroy his way of life. He has lost all his friends and has nothing to return to.
There were many symbols and images in All Quiet on the Western Front. Examples of this include the pair of boots and the constant urge for companionship. The pair of boots and the fact that it was passed around so often tells us that death was a very common occurrence during the war and that the soldiers wanted to use everything then could find in order to aid their chances of survival. The urge for companionship is shown when the group crosses the river to see the French girls and when the group sees the picture of the girl while having a drink. As the boys start being killed in the war, the group wished that everything could that they could be back home doing things they enjoy. The pictures serve as a reminder that war disrupts everything, from people’s lives and their dreams and ambitions.
The major theme of the novel All Quiet on the Western Front is that war must be avoided at all cost because of the severe consequences that will arise. War causes people to lose friends, makes people worried and creates a feeling of uncertainty among innocent people. War also creates hatred among people. For example, two friends of different nationalities may become bitter enemies only because their respective countries are at war.
I think the novel All Quiet on the Western Front is a well told story, mixing both fiction and non-fiction into a powerful novel which forces people to think deeply about war and all of its possible repercussions. The book makes me think of all the lost talent that was lost during the war. Even though levels of technology increases exponentially, we have to wonder what the people who died in the war could have done to help the human cause. The novel also tells us that friendship always prevails even though tough times. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks that war can be short and glorious. Through this book, any reader can see that war brings unnecessary death to innocent people (soldiers and civilians). After reading the book, the reader will probably have a different outlook on war and all the low points that it brings.
Through this book, we, as human beings, should find attempt to find solutions through discussion and compromise instead of warfare. Countries in war may feel that they are gaining a lot through wars but what they fail to see is the losses they have suffered. In many cases, the gain is negligible when it is compared to the losses.