Changes In Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front

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At the beginning of the war, soldiers were excited and enthusiastic about fighting and they saw the other side as non-human. However, over time, the soldiers were exposed to so much death and suffering that their views shifted to see the war as an unnecessary evil which destroyed valuable lives. As shown in multiple poems written during World War One, and in Remarque’s, All Quiet on the Western Front, through witnessing excessive suffering and death at the hands of society, people recognize their individual values over the values of their society.

As the war began, soldiers were surrounded by glorifying propaganda and encouragement from society to get involved, this led to feelings of excitement and pride towards the war. By demonizing the
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By relying on their own personal experiences, the soldiers began to see that the enemies were like-minded and human too. During Christmas in 1914, a ceasefire between the French and the Germans occurred. They shared cigarettes, talked to one another and even engaged in a peaceful game of football. After the occasion, those in higher command, who were not present at the fighting, were furious and prohibited further fraternization with the enemy. They probably responded this way because they wanted to keep the army under the illusion that the opposing side was evil and non-human so that they would continue to kill them. In the poem, The Grave, by Wilfrid Halliday, the allies feel pity for an enemy German boy and feel that it was “a butchery to kill an innocence so sweet” they then bury him and empathize with the pain his family will feel. This shows how the soldiers as a group could kill countless young men for their country, but as individuals felt that the killing was wrong and understood the pain it caused. When Paul was sent to a Russian POW camp, he too felt pity for his enemies. When looking at the prisoners closely, he thought that they seemed “even more good-natured” than his own countrymen (131). He realized that to him personally, the Russian POW’s were “anonymous and blameless” and that if “an order [had] turned [those] silent figures into [his] enemies; an order could turn them into friends again” (133). Through thinking this way, Paul demonstrates how he is beginning to understand that society is influencing him to think in a way which may not be right. Through living in fear and pain, the soldiers realize that the war is not as great as it was made out to be. Paul feels that his life is now “all suffering, for [himself], for [his] mother, for everything because [the war] is all so hopeless and never ending” he wishes that
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