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... quite a lot throughout the book in order to emphasise the pointlessness of war and to make the author realise how hard it was for these common soldiers. A great aspect of this book is that the author conveys very realistically the hardships these young men have to go through. That at any moment you could lose one of your best friends or be killed yourself for stupid, and not so stupid reasons. When the soldiers are going back to the reserve trenches after fighting on the front they have to remember to keep their heads down or otherwise low-lying telephone wires might cut off their heads.
To have survived fighting on the front line and then to be killed going back behind lines would be very ironic. The author mentions this as another reason why war is so pointless and also to show the absurdity of war. It is great to see that the soldiers have not been completely demoralized by war. When they are behind the front line resting one day they start to play Frisbee with a large margarine tub lid. It is a way to forget about the war and to be carefree and happy even if just for a minute.
That in the face of war they are able to do this just shows the readers how strong these soldiers are. War has a big impact on the second theme, which is friendship and love. War has thrown together a group of young men who have learnt to look after one another. At one point in the novel Paul Baumer carries Kat over miles and miles of rough ground in order to get him to hospital. You might expect to hear Kat telling Paul to leave him and go on alone, like they do in most 'heroic' war movies or books, but Kat does not say anything because he has learnt to trust his friend, he knows Paul will try to save him whatever happens.
As it happens when Paul finally finds a dressing station Kat has died from a stray shrapnel wound to the head. He is absolutely distraught as Kat was his best friend. He does not know what to do and because he lost his best friend he starts to give up and I think this is why soon after he himself dies and the book ends. Throughout the whole book the group are almost always together, whether they are fighting, going to a brothel or just stealing food. "All Quiet on the Western Front" makes you realise that although none of the people are special in the large picture, to each other they are very special, and it also reminds us that they are human lives that are being wantonly wasted for absolutely nothing.
There is a very unusual end to "All Quiet on the Western Front" because in most books of any kind at least one of the heroes or heroines lives to tell the tale whereas in this everyone dies. I think this is a good effect as it is what war is really about, not killing your opponents or getting medals, but dying. In many books, at least one of the 'gang' will survive to tell the tale and put flowers on the others' graves but in this no-one does. This is a lot more realistic because often there will be nobody left from within a group. The author has intentionally made you realise that the soldiers on both sides are very similar, none of them have a grudge on the people they are killing, they have grudges on the leaders of the country they are fighting. Remarque never made the narrator of the novel call the British and French, who Baumer fighting against, 'the enemy', he always called them 'the other side'.
Remarque has shown very well that there is no point in war, that it's just wasteful. The author's own experiences are very relevant to this novel as the novel, although a work of fiction is based on his own experiences of war. Remarque enrolled at an early age, just like the narrator of the novel, and although Remarque did not die during the war, he was injured, just like Baumer, and he did go off to hospitals around Germany. Unlike Baumer though, his active service finished when he was injured; he spent the rest of the war as a clerk behind a desk. The novel is written in first person and this is very significant.
First person gives the reader the ability to see into the thoughts of the narrator, you can tell what he is feeling, what he wants to do, what he does not want to do. It helps the reader realise how much Paul needed his friends, that without them he would have gone insane straight away. It gives you an insight into the characters. You realise how kind they were because you could see the reaction their actions had on the narrator. It shows a common person's view on the war. Most books and films show what it's like for the heroes, the people who kill a thousand Nazis before breakfast and then go back home for a medal.
No medals are awarded to these soldiers, and millions others like them, who have died for their nation. All these benefits greatly enhance the readers' enjoyment. It would have been just another war novel, not the masterpiece it turned out to be. "All Quiet on the Western Front" is principally about war and it's absurdity but it is also very much about friendship and surviving against the odds, at least for a while. It is an expertly written novel about the hardships of trench warfare on the Western Front in World War One. Remarque uses his own experiences to make the book a unique insight into World War One, as other writers writing about World War One who haven't witnessed it first-hand are always going to make it more glamorous than it actually is. It is for this reason that "All Quiet on the Western Front" is infinitely better than all the other war books you have read.
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Research essay sample on World War One Quiet On The Western Front