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All Quiet On the Western Front - Two People in Two Worlds

Uploaded by frankie on Apr 15, 2001

People engage in wars for different reasons. Some for nationalism, many for what is right, and still others do not even know why they fight. In the books, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, two different people fight for different causes yet have a common bond. Both Okonkwo and Paul Baumer find their identity through defending the dignity and honor of those around them.

Paul is caught in WWI fighting to prove his loyalty to his country. Amidst the war, he struggles to find meaning in the new image he has become. In the beginning, their teacher persuades everyone in the class to enlist in the military to fight the glorious war. Thinking this is an honorable idea, everyone joins, even those who secretly fear the battlefield. However, in certainty, they are forced into volunteering;

“Territorial Kantorek, two years ago you preached us into enlisting; and among us there was one, Joseph Behm, who didn’t want to enlist. He was killed three months before he would have been called up in the ordinary way. If it had not been for you he would have lived just that much longer” (174).

Their schoolmaster, Kantorek fills their heads up with views of nationalism, the belief that one's country is all that matters. Some students even have pressure from their parents to enlist. Not enlisting is like turning their back on their own country. To the teachers, schoolmasters, and older men, going to war is the best thing a man could do for his country. However, in reality, Paul and his friends do not want to kill or be killed. One of Paul’s friend says, “No one in particular wants it, and then all at once there it is. We didn’t want the war, the others say the same thing- and yet half the world is in it all the same” (206). The young group of soldiers concludes that they are trapped fighting in war for the desires of generals and rulers wanting fame. Although none of them want to fight, patriotism to one’s own country overrules the sense. In combat and fighting in action, Paul, “…see[s] how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently; innocently slay one another” (263). Baumer, a soldier, merely follows instructions. He has no say, no opinion whatsoever, and whatever ideas he has, is to...

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Uploaded by:   frankie

Date:   04/15/2001

Category:   All Quiet on the Western Front

Length:   4 pages (827 words)

Views:   2714

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