|All Quiet on the Western Front Essay by Karla Timbang
In the novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Remarque, he tells a story of boys who go into war. The author weaves many themes, like brotherhood, and home into the book’s characters and plot. Through these themes the readers get a vivid picture of how the front really is. But the real foundation of Remarque’s work is the theme of war.
There are many places in the book where it is clear to the reader that Remarque’s main theme is war. One of the places is when the men are just sitting around and talking about going home. They are saddened by the sudden thought that they will never be the same anymore because of what they have seen. Pal thins to himself, “Two years of shells and bombs – a man won’t peel that off as easy as a sock” (87). Here Paul is saying that war, unlike socks, which are easy to remove and forget about, will stick with them forever. The haunting images of dying men will follow them even when they go home. This quote greatly exhibits the importance of war in this novel by saying that war has practically ruined the men’s happiness. The war has changed the men which ruin their visit home.
Another example of war being the basis of this novel and all the themes is when Paul goes home. Paul is given leave with a few extra days. Paul remembers leave as a different experience. After Paul has seen his family and other people, he narrates to the reader, “I find I do not belong here anymore. Even with his family there, he still feels that way. The front with his new comrades is where he feels the most comfortable. This is because at home, he feels like nobody can understand what he has been through. He feels that only his friends from the front will ever understand him anymore. Even though this quote comes to the mind when thinking of the theme home, one can see that this quote is only in the novel because of the theme war. War brings many hardships, like distance from past relationships, but it also brings some people together.
The last quote that shows that all the themes of this novel is tied with was is when Paul is fighting with his friends. Paul is really scared, but once he heard his friends, he finds peace within him and feels much better. Paul thought, “They were more to me than fear,” (212). In the midst of warfare, his “brothers” gave him strength and comfort to move on. Fear is a huge emotion to people and voices of friends bring comfort. Paul is a man hardened by war and shells and voices of friends bring comfort. This shows how much they mean to him. However, without war these men would have never gotten to know each other. All of these men were nothing alike when they were back home, but now they bring comfort to one another by just talking. This quote is a great example of showing that war not only tears people apart, but also brings some together. Which shows that the theme brotherhood ties into the theme war.
In conclusion, Remarque has many themes in this novel, but the main one he wanted the reader to take notice of was war. From these examples, the reader is able to see that themes like brotherhood and home are there because of the theme war. Thanks to Remarque, the reader has a true image of what war really does.