Summary And Symbolism In All Quiet On The Western Front

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The words “poplars” or “trees” are frequently referred to throughout the entire novel. Remarque repeatedly uses them as the symbols of beauty and innocence of youth. As he conjures up the past and its memories, Paul describes, “but most beautiful are the woods with their line of birch trees…then the birches stand out like gay banners on white poles, with their red and gold patches of autumn-tinted leaves” (Remarque 180). The description of the trees and the imagery that is associated with them is vividly beautiful. The poetic language and structure contain underlying symbols of the beauty and innocence of the soldiers’ past. This is suggested by the colors of the “banner” that the trees are compared to: white, red, and gold. Conventionally, the color white symbolizes love and passion; red symbolizes love and passion; gold symbolizes abundance and …show more content…

On the way we [the soldiers] pass through a devastated wood with the tree trunks shattered and the ground ploughed up. At several places there are tremendous craters” (Remarque 207). This is not only contrasting to the previous depiction of the beauty of the trees, as the cacophonous words reflect, but the quote seems to hint at the destruction of abstract aspects of beauty and innocence during the war. This idea is further developed by Remarque, through the voice of Paul, who represents all the soldiers, “between the meadows behind our town there stands a line of old poplars by a stream…We loved them dearly, and the image of those days still makes my heart pause in its beating…They [the memories of the past] are strong and our desire is strong – but they are unattainable, and we know it” (Remarque 120). Such memories of the past, along with the values the trees and poplars possess, are completely destroyed. However, more importantly, Paul explains that they are “unattainable,” meaning the soldiers will never be able to regain

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