Nationalism In Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front

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From 1914 to 1918 World War One occurred due to the murder of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by a Serbian group named the Black Hand. Additionally, several powerful countries, including Germany, France, and Britain, established a series of alliances that amplifies the size of the war. Likewise, the war expanded by the strong nationalist beliefs of each country, therefore a countless amount of men desired to fight the war, in order to support their country. This sense of nationalism is a theme explored throughout Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, through the lense of a young German Soldier. The protagonist, Paul, a 19 year old soldier, explores the horrors of war through strong comradeship, the death of companions,…show more content…
Near the end of Paul’s leave of absence, he felt isolated and full of regret, “I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless-I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end.”(Remarque 185) This quote accentuates the narrator’s separation from his family, when he cries out “I ought never to have come here.” Moreover, commonly, soldiers are exhilarated to finally go home after long periods of time at the front, and the men dread when they have to return to battle. However, in Paul’s case, he desires to return to the front, rather than staying in his home town and seeing his mother in pain, he yearns to feel numb again. Therefore, Paul is in “agony” because before going on leave, he was hopeless and had no will to live, thus making him a better soldier. Although, after visiting his mother and sister, he has rediscovered a reason to survive, making it harder to go back. Moreover, the word, “comfortless,” illustrates how Paul feels isolated even at home, he feels little comfort where he grew up. This statement is ironic because in general, people especially feel safe at home, where one often doesn’t feel lonely, however the narrator feels quite the…show more content…
To illustrate this idea, the author compares the older soldiers to the young soldiers, when the narrator states, “They have wives, children, occupations and interests...We stood on the threshold of life. And so it would seem. We had as yet taken no root...[We] do not know what the end may be. We know only that in some strange and melancholy way we have become a wasteland” (Remarque 20). This excerpt can be interpreted to mean that the young soldiers are too young to have a real place like home, causing them to feel insignificant, but the older soldiers have a reason to live, for their “wives, children, occupations and interests.” The author uses the phrase, “taken no root,” to convey how the young soldiers have never been anywhere long enough to grow their “roots”, suggesting that they have no safe place, a place like home. This quote implies that the extreme confinement from loved ones have caused the soldiers to become secluded from their family, obliging them to think that they don’t have a purpose, and feeling like a “waste land.” The speaker refers to himself and the young soldiers as a “waste land” to symbolize that the men consider themselves insignificant, they perceive themselves as pawns in a chess game, causing repercussions to their familial relationship. The author compares the soldiers because he wants the readers
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