A Comparison Of All Quiet On The Western Front And German Prison

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Comparing All Quiet on the Western Front and “German Prisoners”

George R.R. Martin, an accomplished novelist and famed author of Game of Thrones once stated, “There is a savage beast in every man, and when you hand that man a sword or spear and send him forth to war, the beast stirs.” The novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and the poem “German Prisoners” by Joseph Lee carries a message similar to Martin’s. All Quiet on the Western Front depicts the grim realities of life in the trenches of World War I. The rules and morals of civilization fall apart in front of the deaths of their comrades and enemies. In “German Prisoners” a soldier witnesses the captive German soldiers; they are crippled, weak, and human. Both …show more content…

Paul describes the degeneration and mental instability of the soldiers. Just before his comrade Detering deserts, Paul states, “We are little flames poorly sheltered by frail walls against the storm of dissolution and madness, in which we flicker and sometimes almost go out” (Remarque 275). Traditionally, light is symbolic of hope. Remarque uses metaphors to compare the soldiers to “little flames”, the inclusion of “little” describes that their flames were much bigger, but war is extinguished most of it. In Paul’s musings, the “shelter” represents both the physical shelter the soldiers have, as well as, their mental shelter against the “madness” of war. However, the shelter they are given is described as a “frail wall”, and combined with the storm of war, the soldiers' mental and physical strength deteriorate. Furthermore, when the narrator of “German prisoners” witnesses the sullen faces of the prisoners, he states, “How from tired eyes looked spirits broken down, / How each face showed the pale flag of defeat” (Lee 7-8). Lee’s use of “pale” in the description of their faces not only describes the prisoner in a “tired” and “broken down” condition but also calls to mind the white flag of surrender, metaphorically conveying the feeling of defeat. Moreover, the white flag is a symbol of defeat in battle, this metaphor emphasizes wartime as the root cause of their …show more content…

After Paul returns from leave, he is sent to a German soldier training camp. Next to the camp, Paul witnesses the vivid scenes of debilitated Russian soldiers being transported into the prison. Paul states, “They seem nervous and fearful, though most of them are big fellows with beards – they look like meek, scolded, St. Benard dogs” (Remarque 189). The public perception of St Benard dogs is that they are gentle giants. Remarque compares the Russian prisoners to St. Benards by establishing a visual connection between the two. Remarque describes the Russian prisoners as “big fellows with beards”, the relatively large St. Benards can be similarly described. By comparing the prisoners to dogs, Remarque not only portrays the dehumanization of the Russians, but also the immorality of the germans. The Germans chose to tame the Russians, they “scolded” the prisoners until they were “meek”, weak, and submissive. The St. Benard analogy leads us to conclude that instead of war there are other options. If a St. Benard dog socialized with humans, it would be amiable, loyal, and gentle. However, the temptation of war degrades the morals of the countries and forces them down the immoral path. Similarly, the narrator in “German prisoners” witnesses the pallid german figures being transported past him, he describes, “When first I saw you in the curious street/ Like some

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