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Review of All Quiet on the Western Front - Book Report/Review Example

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Harris Kamran History and Political Science Book Review 29 August 2011 All Quiet on The Western Front Every once in a while, a book is published that causes much upheaval in the society and touches the nerves of the masses, often addressing controversial yet important topics and challenges the set norms of the period…
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Book Review of All Quiet on the Western Front
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"Review of All Quiet on the Western Front"

Download file to see previous pages It lays bare the tragedies and difficulties that the young soldiers have to face while on the front, and the problems they face when they get back to their civilian lives2. This paper purports to describe some of the issues narrated in the pertinent book about World War I, and the effects those dilemmas had on the lives of the young soldiers after the war was over. The basic underlying issue dealt with in the book is the mismatch that the soldiers face when they return home once the war is over3. This is graphically, yet, stoically described by Remarque in a manner that touches the heart yet is not overly sentimental. The effect, thus, is to create a picture of reality and investigate into the lives and feelings of the soldiers to unmask the raw nature of war and its aftermath. The narrative focuses on the life of a teenage soldier, named Paul Baumer, supported by other characters that comprise his school mates, and is mostly constructed in flash backs as he fights battle after battle with his fellow soldiers on the Western Front in World War I4. the writer does not stress much on the importance or details of the individual battles, rather emphasizes on the psychological and physical effects that those battles have on the soldiers5. As the soldiers talk and share among themselves in the period between battle campaigns, Remarque says through the characters, ‘We are not youth any longer. We don't want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts’(42)6. The hopelessness and despair are apparent from this statement. This, essentially, is the context against which the war played with the lives of the soldiers. The writer successfully denounces all notions of glamour or heroism associated with the war, portraying it as an evil that resulted in the destruction of an entire generation of young men, who, after the war, were left with a feeling of uselessness and alienation from the society7. Such a generation, then, rightfully felt ‘lost’(56)8. Such subtle concepts are often neglected in other works on war. The war has not just a cumulative effect on the society and a physical effect on the geographical area, but also has a potent psychological effect on the thinking patterns and the mindset of the soldiers who take part in the war. Baumer, a young man infused with creativity and dreams about his future, was suddenly thrust into an environment that had no place for his poetry and his future plans9. The pen in his hand was replaced by a gun, his friends replaced by soldiers, and his home replaced by war pits and trenches10. He was suddenly a different man, older than his age11, and a misfit outside of the war, which took a toll on his psyche and made him lose all hope and desires, as is evident from the statement, ‘We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in war’(42)12. The very title of the book is suggestive of the futility which the war brings with itself. The soldiers, having fought with their lives in the war, are not credited or even remembered13. The battles soon lose their importance as the commanding generals decide to move the army from one front to the other, or as in this case, when the war is over. As Baumer lay dying, it was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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