Horrors Of War In All Quiet On The Western Front
“Only dead have seen the end of war”(Plato.) The soldiers in the book All Quiet On The western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, which was set in the time of World War One, faced many obstacles that put them further and further away from happiness. The men were given no time to grieve if someone close to them had been killed because they had to keep moving on. War caused great physical and emotional harm on the soldiers that would affect them for the rest of their lives whether they were on the battlefield or in the “peace” of their own home.
One of this war’s tragedies first started with a physical effect. There were men who were dying drastic and painful deaths, which caused the men to have new perspectives. The following quotation occurs when Paul is talking about how Behm died before all of the men. He had been shot in the eye and was out in the field where the men couldn’t go without getting hit. “He had only been knocked unconscious. Because he couldn’t see, and was mad with pain, he failed to keep undercover, and so was shot down before anyone could go and fetch him”(pg. 12.) What this shows are the casualties of war and how they had little to no grieving time. The men did not get to experience the whole mourning period like a normal person would do for a fallen friend. The next quotation takes place when Paul is next to Kemmerich on his deathbed and Paul describes what Kemmerich looks like. “The skeleton is working itself through. The eyes are already sunken in. In a couple hours it will be over”(pg. 28.) This shows that Paul wants his friend to be out of misery, but the process of watching him is unbearable because he hasn’t had to experience anything such as this before. As a result of the fatalities of war, it caused the men to change not only physically, but also mentally.
The mental and emotional aspects of the war were unbearable for the men to handle at times. Especially Paul when he has a moment where he is describing what the war means to him and what it has now implanted inside of his mind. He is in the hospital with Albert and has just recently been able to get up. “How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is”(pg. 263.) What this explains is the fact that war was not something that Paul thought was a pretty picture. He used words that described this new mental approach to horror and senselessness of war. Most of the time the soldiers that thought this about war had a hard time connecting to anyone else that did not understand it. When Paul is on leave and meets a German master, he gets very annoyed with his view on war and is reconsidering being on leave. He has just left the man and is alone when he says, “I prefer to be alone,
Kirchgessner2 so that no one troubles me. For they all come back to the same thing, how badly it goes and how well it goes; one thinks it is absorbed in the things that go to make up their existence”(pg. 168.) What Paul was trying to describe was the world that he now imagined in his mind was not a world filled with people with good and happy thoughts, just the truth and the utterly horrible thoughts that came along with it. He did not like the two-sided view of things anymore. Consequently, there were some long-lasing effects that came from these mental and emotional dilemmas. As a consequence of war, the soldiers are never going to be the same person that they were a year before they stepped foot on the battleground. . When Paul went to visit his mother in the hospital, he was sitting with his sister and his dad and he could not break the silence because he had nothing to…