All Quiet On the Western Front
Uploaded by arj on Jun 28, 2001
The novel All Quiet On The Western Front contains many incidents where the readers can hold characters responsible for their actions, however his novel in particular relates to the clash of values. Though fictional this novel by Erich Maria Remarque, presents vast detail through the conflicts at the Western Front. Corporal Himmelstoss a character in the novel is portrayed as a stereotypical military man, whose actions, when all's said and done, speaks for itself as the reader really does not question his iniquitous behaviour. However, apart from just the reader holding such characters morally accountable for their actions the novel concerns the rejection of traditional values, Paul’s disillusionment, and life opposed to death. Through such clashing of values, Remarque creates a confronting novel where the plot is for the most part articulated around values in conflict.
The stereotypical stance of Corporal Himmelstoss, a military officer, is presented as a physically undersized man who wears a waxed moustache, which ideally supports the many defiant occasions where he disheartens the young soldiers. Throughout the novel where he is sent into the trenches we accept his role of breaking the spirits of the young soldiers. However, we understand why Paul and Albert Kropp take revenge beating him up. It is through these instances where the reader can almost understand a character through his right and wrong actions. Remarque’s inclusion of such scenes in the novel acts out the bitter anger and disillusionment of the young soldiers.
The constant close companion of death besides Paul and his friends provides such clashing of values. Throughout the novel Paul never really recalls their opponents, the allies, as enemies. We also hardly see the other side other than the time where they took on the French militia; infact it would be appropriate to conclude that their real enemy in the war was the enemy Death. Every soldier in the war wasn’t innocently fighting for his country in an attempt to win, soldiers were fighting in order to survive death – it is only the fact that chance and luck kept them going. Paul and his friends could not comprehend that World War One was simply fought due to some document signed by each side’s respective leaders. These events allow readers to follow through that novel above all was concerned with values of life against death, and peace against war.
Perhaps Remarque’s intended theme at the start of the novel...