I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life
but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow
All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque, is a vividly horrific verification of what went on at the front of World War I. It goes deep into the souls of the men that were sent out to heroically fight for their country. It follows the lives of these men, young and old, that were forced to turn from everything that was ever important to them in their lives. These men risked everything that they had, especially their lives.
As this story begins, Paul Baumer, a nineteen-year-old boy that volunteers to enlist in the German army of World War I, is thought to have a very creative mind and a positive outlook on his life. He loved school and most of all he loved to write. Paul wrote many stories as well as poetry, currently he was working on a play entitled Saul. This was his escape from the world. Paul had always had an idealistic view on the war, at least that what he was taught to believe. He and his classmates were made to believe that fighting for their country was heroic and highly respectable. Kantorek, the boys head school master, drilled these thoughts in their minds and made them think that that enlisting and fighting were their only options. The boys took every word that Kantorek spoke to heart and soon enlisted in the German army to fight in World War I. After all, how were they to know what this war had in store for them?
Drills, drills, and more drills. The soldiers were being prepared for life at the front. Paul is tired, very tired. He and his classmates are reluctant about the whole fighting situation now. But they still had no idea what they were in for at the front. Nothing could prepare them for it. They are scared. Paul doesnt know how to react, nor does he know what to think, he is frozen with fear. Kantorek never mentioned the killing, or the blood, or the mud. It all takes so much out of a mans soul. The death of their friend/classmate, Kemmerich, is hard for boys to take, but they continue to be optimistic. Death is so common for them now as they have come to know it very well.
Instinct is the biggest factor in Pauls life now, as well as the lives of the other men fighting in this sickening war. They forget everything learned in the classroom, for it all means nothing to them now. Death and war is all they know. While home on leave, Paul feels isolated from his family and neighbors. This is not his home anymore. He tries to write but only thoughts of sorrow and death come to mind. Paul is not familiar with his home anymore. It has come to the point where he feels more at home at the front with his friends. Society doesnt know the war like Paul and the other men do. They dont know how it feels to kill and to hurt, and they dont know the pain. Chance rules their lives now.
In this story, Paul Baumer has significantly changed. His whole attitude and outlook on life has changed, for the worse. He becomes so withdrawn from the world around him. Everything has been taken from him and he feels that he has nothing else left. Death has ruled his life for so long now and he doesnt know of anything else. World War I tore apart not only the life of Paul Baumer, but of hundreds of thousands of men just like him.
all quiet on the western front by: erich maria remarque