All Quiet on the Western Front

12 December 2016

In the book All Quiet on the Western Front the main character and narrator Paul describes the war as not fighting for his country but fighting for his own survival.

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This theme has been repeatedly outspoken in the book because Paul and the other characters have lost their sense of patriotism. Once the characters have left their previous feelings of patriotism, which is why they joined the war initially, they have no other choice but to fight in order to survive the war.

Throughout the book Paul thinks back to when he was in school listening to one of his teachers lecture and he thought that at this point he had great feelings of patriotism and love for his country. Later on in the book when he is with his classmates overseas in the war he realizes that he no longer fights in the war is for love of country but for his own survival. In the book one of Paul’s friends dies in his arms at the infirmary and Muller say’s, “We have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial.

Only the facts are real and important to us. And good boots are hard to come by” (Remarque 21). This quote is in reference to how Muller wishes to take the dying soldiers boots because they are in much better condition than his and because he is dying he will no longer need them. This is an example of fighting for self-survival because out of pure inconsideration Muller does not have any moral discomfort with taking the boots of a dying man.

Another example of how people only want to fight for their own survival and not patriotism is when Paul says, “Our thoughts are clay, they are moulded with the changes of the days;–when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without” (Remarque 271). This statement tells the reader that even though the soldiers might think something in the beginning of the war their ideas and beliefs can change over time.

This also goes in accordance with my thesis because it supports the idea that in the beginning, Paul and his classmates are inspired to fight out of patriotism by their teacher Kantorek, while later on they only fight for their own survival. A last example of how the characters in All Quiet on the Western Front are fighting to survive rather than out of patriotism is when Paul, the narrator, says, “But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship.

Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy” (Remarque 223)? This quote is the strongest supporter of the idea that the soldiers are fighting for their own survival because it shows that not only is Paul not fighting for his country but he also regrets joining the war because he knows that the enemy believes the same thing.

He feels that the people he is fighting are in the war for the same reasons that he is, and they want to get out of the war for the same reasons also. This book was published with the intentions of telling a story of war and its cruelties. At the end it the author lets the reader assume that Paul wanted to die in the end because he knew that he had nothing left to do in his life and that it was his only way of finding peace. Paul is first encountered with feelings of patriotism in one of Kantorek’s speeches and later acknowledges that Patriotism is not the driving force for any soldier but it is their need to survive.

These feelings are later brought to Paul before he dies which is when he allows the reader to assume that his only way of achieving peace is death. “We have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important to us. And good boots are hard to come by” (Remarque 21). 2. “Our thoughts are clay, they are moulded with the changes of the days;–when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without” (Remarque 271). . “But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony.

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All Quiet on the Western Front. (2016, Dec 24). Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-all-quiet-on-the-western-front-3/
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