Do or Die on The Western Front Essay

Submitted By hughston7
Words: 988
Pages: 4

Do or Die on the Western Front In Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front Paul traverses through the harsh times of World War I. From peace at camp to chaos on the front, from angry officers to a friend who supplies you with food, from a mask of not caring to crying like a child. Remarque Shows his technical ability as a writer to compare and contrast different scenes to emphasis the difference and harsh reality of war.
Throughout the novel Remarque contrasts different scenes for example the front and at camp are totally different and are often right after each other. While they are on wiring fatigue they are close to the front and all they hear is “the roar of the explosions. (61)” During the time they are allowed to rest while on the wiring fatigue shells fired fall on them and two soldiers are injured and so are the horses. Right after the first shell lands near their group Kat says “were in for it. (61)” When he says this he sounds exasperated and that he expected it to happen. Kat did not panic but held his composure for the recruits. Being this close to the front and at the front everything is in sharper detail and frantic; the front is the embodiment of the saying do or die. Remarque contrasts this to being at the camp about 5 miles away where they can frolic around in a green meadow. When they have to use the bathroom at camp they pull wooden boxes together and “it will be two hours before we get up again. (7)” This just proves how relaxed and lazy the soldiers are at camp. They will not get up till past noon and then just sit all day doing nothing. In the trenches they go fourteen days with minimal sleep then they come back and can sleep as much as they want. The trenches are full of filth and camp is clean and relaxed. Another contrast is Himmeseltoss at camp compared to how he acts on the front. Himmeseltoss is a class A jerk at camp; ordering everybody around pulling random drills that do nothing to prepare the soldiers for the trenches. He made Paul and Kropp pick up “snow with a hand-broom and dust-pan. (23)” He takes his limited power and shoves it in the people who have no power. He delights in other people’s misery and is devious in how he does it. This attitude and outlook does not cope with Paul and his friends who do everything he says but at such a slow pace that he just gives up and leaves them alone. When Himmeseltoss is at the front and a as bombardment ensues he dives into the dugout and when Paul checks on him he has “a small scratch lying in the corner pretending to be wounded. (131)” Paul is furious because Himmeseltoss is acting like a coward; he tries to get out of the fighting. He a non-com should be one of the people leading the attack because of his status. When they are relieved and come back from the front Himmelstoss “has had the bounce knocked out of him. (137)” He is a whole new person; he gives them sugar and butter, makes it to where Paul and his friends are on kitchen duty the easiest task. If you compare Himmelstoss before and after it is jaw-dropping at the difference. Before the front he was surly, power crazy, and haughty. After the visit to the front he is genial, giving, protective, and friendly. Paul also changes throughout the novel. When Paul is at the front and in the war he is calloused to his feeling of others besides his friends. This is brought to sharp relief when