All Quiet on the Western Front


Erich Maria Remarque?s All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel that takes you through the life of a soldier in World War I. Remarque is accurately able to portray the episodes soldiers go through. All Quiet on the Western Front shows the change in attitudes of the men before and during the war. This novel is able to show the great change war has evolved to be. From lining your men up and charging in the eighteenth century, to digging and "living" in the trenches with rapid-fire machine guns, bombs, and flame-throwers being exposed in your trench a short five meters away. Remarque makes one actually feel the fun and then the tragedy of warfare. At the beginning of the novel Remarque gives you nationalist feelings through pride of Paul and the rest of the boys. However at the end of the war Remarque shows how pointless war really is. This is felt when everyone starts to die as the war progresses.
Remarque accurately portrays all aspects of the war. However Remarque is best able to portray the effects the war has on the soldiers and the rest of the people and the scene of the battlefield compared to home.
The war scarred the soldiers permanently, if not physically then mentally. After the war the soldiers usually never recovered from the war. Two of the most common side affects of the war were shell shock and stir crazy. When suffering from shell shock a soldier?s brain doesn?t function properly and the man is a "vegetable". This means the man is alive but he can?t do anything because he is in a state of shock because of the war. Stir crazy is a mental illness caused by the firing of so many bullets that when no bullets are heard by the victim he goes insane. Everyone was scared to go to war when it started. Young recruits were first sent because the veterans knew they were going to come back dead. "When we run out again, although I am very excited, I suddenly think: "where?s Himmelstoss?" Quickly I jump back into the dug-out and find him with a small scratch lying in a corner pretending to be wounded." (P 131) Even the big men like Himmelstoss are scared to go fight. They too go through the mental illnesses like stir crazy and shell shock. "He is in a panic; he is new to it too. But it makes me mad that the young recruits should be out there and he here." (P 131) This quote is Paul talking about Himmelstoss.
Remarque also describes the battlefield very well also. He gives accurate descriptions of the trenches and the life in the trenches. Trenches are described to be one of the most dangerous places in the war. Trenches are so dangerous because if a bomb or poison shells are dropped in a trench there is no way out. Chances are that you will die if any explosive lands in your trench because trenches stretch for miles but don?t have escape routes. The soldiers of the war had never seen nor heard of poison gas so they did not know how to react when they were exposed to it. "A surprise gas-attack carries off a lot of them. They have not yet learned what to do. We found one dugout full of them, with blue heads and black lips." (P 131) These soldiers did not have any experience with gas bombs and therefore did not know how to react.
There also were important parts of the war excluded by Remarque. Some of the most important parts omitted were the lives of women and the effects the war had on the home front. The role of women changed greatly during the years of World War I. Women went from being housewives and maids to becoming high income businesswomen, mathematicians and any other jobs that the men at war would normally do. The war also had drastic effects on the home front. World War I was called "total war" because everyone was involved in the war someway or another. Forty thousand women volunteered as nurses, eighty thousand women volunteered as cooks, and on hundred and thirteen thousand volunteered as Land Army, who supplied the men. Farmers gave all of their harvests to the soldier at the war. People were