World War 1 Trauma Analysis

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Trauma is a ubiquitous injury on the psyche of soldiers found after any armed conflict. It is defined as when “the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions, in which the individual experiences a threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity” (Pearlman & Saakvitne 60).
World War I is certainly no exception, as the pervasiveness of death and destruction during the years the war raged have yet to be matched elsewhere. Trauma affects the individual soldier in many different ways; psychologically and socially the road to recovery is certain to be long. Each person attempts to deal with their mental injuries in a different manner; Erich Paul Remarque found relief in the therapeutic value of writing novels about his experiences
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There are two key examples of this; the horrors of killing another human being, and witnessing the death of a close friend. After being forced to kill a French soldier, protagonist Paul Baumer is overcome with grief and remorse. He begins to think almost deliriously due to the trauma he experiences. Baumer, or perhaps it should be said Remarque, writes “My brain is taxed beyond endurance.... I have killed the printer, Gerard Duval. I must be a printer, I think confusedly, be a printer” (225). Here Remarque cautions the audience as to the terrible personal consequences killing entails, despite it being in self defence. He is so overwhelmed with grief that he believes that he must take the man 's place in life. The importance of this scene within a trauma narrative can be precisely explained by the article, “Representing Trauma”. Here, it is argued that “Trauma narritives engage readers in a number of important social and psychological issues” (Vickroy, 2). In this instance, the issue is killing another human being. Remarque and his fictional character, Baumer, both struggle with the aftermath of having taken someone 's life. By recounting this difficulty to the audience, Remarque begins to show readers the tough realities of war. Later, he describes the death of Kat. Baumer becomes close friends with Kat in the novel, and Kat 's death bears many…show more content…
Finally, the novel allows Remarque to come to terms with the traumatic experience that he has born witness to. In the article, Recognizing Trauma Symptoms and the Role of Narrative in Recovery, it is advised that “veterans commonly adopt coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, avoidance, fantasy, and storytelling to help them reduce the trauma symptoms they experience... the only one that holds a promise of success for characters is narration... they must find a way to integrate their war experiences into their previous life narratives” (Rolen 4-5). This statement is quite accurate, as Remarque had previously posed as a highly decorated officer in a fantasy to help him cope. This was obviously not fulfilling or successful, and thus he turned to writing his narrative. All Quiet On the Western Front is Remarque 's story told through the fictional eyes of Paul Baumer. The story line of the novel closely follows his personal experience, aiding in identifying the work as his personal trauma narrative. The novel allowed him to integrate the experience into his life via his literary canon, as Rolen states is necessary for coping. This relief is reflected in Paul 's death at the end of the novel, where he has “an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come” (296). By writing his trauma narrative, Remarque too no doubt feels a sense of relief and calm. Through this final example, it is clearly evident that the work must be read as a
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