Irony In Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front

1627 Words7 Pages
Irony in Remarque 's, All Quiet on the Western Front
Some historians and people describe World War I as “The Great War,” a label that must be ironic to those who have fought it and lost their friends and family. Erich Maria Remarque 's novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, narrates the lives of several young soldiers, Paul, Tjaden, Albert and Müller, among others, who enlisted to defend the German lines. Their schoolteachers encouraged them to enlist by stressing the nobility of and courage in serving and protecting the nation. However, deep in the trenches, Paul and his friends rapidly learn the difference between what they had been taught about the war and what the war itself has taught them. All Quiet on the Western Front reveals
…show more content…
War has promptly developed the minds and characters of the young recruits in such a short time and so deeply, a transformation that their schoolteachers had never achieved. Paul believes that they know more now than their teachers because the war has schooled them about life. Kantorek, their schoolteacher, wrote that they were "the Iron Youth" and Paul thinks, “Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk” (Remarque 18). The paradox is that in terms of age, Kantorek should be wiser; however, since he is the one who sent them to war, his students have become smarter than him. As soldiers, they learned how to be pragmatic in their approach to life. For instance, Kemmerich is near death and Müller already intends to acquire his boots the moment he dies. Paul knows that pining over a struggling peer’s boots is unethical, yet “[they] have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important for [them]. And good boots are scarce” (Remarque 21). In the midst of war bombardments, social graces have low value as they are artificial niceties. At the front, good boots can increase their comfort and perhaps even the chances of surviving. The example illustrates how war has transformed the once carefree youth into adults who focus on surviving each day and taking what life can offer them to make war more
Open Document