All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front In the book “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Remarque, the author uses nature, and comradeship, to describe what the characters are going through. Erich uses nature in several ways, such as describing how the soldiers are facing terrible hardships, also it reflects on their sadness, and provides a contrast to the unnatural world of war. The author also uses the theme Comradeship through all the horrifying pictures of death and inhumanity, he talks about when Paul and his friends pick on Himmelstoss and beat him.
We think it’s funny because Himmelstoss deserves it for being rude to them, and Paul and his friends are just giving him what he deserves. As we start going farther into the book, we start to realize that beating on someone isn’t funny anymore. We read the how the soldiers feel after assaulting and killing other people, it gives us a disturbing thought about war. Erich shows the theme Nature in many parts of the book. In chapter 2, when Kemmerich dies Paul takes his identification tags and walks outside.
He then says “I breathe as deep as I can, and feel the breeze in my face, warm and soft as never before. ” (Remarque 33) This is one of many times, when nature has helped the men go through bad experiences, and help them move on. Nature also reflects the terrible sadness of the lost generation. In Chapter 4, Paul’s company sustains heavy losses and a recruit is wounded so badly Paul and Kat consider killing him to end his suffering. The Lorries and medics arrive too quickly, and they are forced to rethink their decision.
Paul watches the rain fall and says: “It falls on our heads and on the heads of the dead, up in the line, on the body of the little recruit with the wound that is so much too big for his hip; it falls on Kemmerich grave; it falls in our hearts. ” (Remarque The cleansing rain falls upon the hopelessness of Paul’s life and the lives of those around him. Throughout Remarque’s book, we also see a strong affinity between nature and lost dreams and memories. When Paul is on sentry duty in Chapter 6, he remembers his childhood and thinks about the poplar avenue where such a long time ago they sat beneath the trees and put their feet in the stream.
Back then the water was fragrant, the wind melodious; these memories of nature cause a powerful calmness and awaken a remembrance of what was but sadly, will never be again. Finally, butterflies play gracefully and settle on the teeth of a skull; birds fly through the air in a carefree pattern. This is nature in the midst of death and destruction. While men kill each other and wonder why, the butterflies, birds, and breeze flutter though the killing fields and carry on as if mankind were quite insignificant.
Even at the end when Paul knows there is so little time until the armistice, he reflects on the beauty of life and hopes that he can stay alive until the laws of nature once again prevail and the actions of men bring peace. He describes the red poppies, meadows, beetles, grass, trees at twilight, and the stars. How can such beauty go on in the midst of such heartache? Remarque says that this novel “will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. If words can touch what men hold to be dear in their hearts and so cause them to change the world, this book with its words of a lost generation, lost values, and lost humanity is surely one that should be required reading for all generations. . When Paul and his friends waylay Himmelstoss and beat on him, we laugh because he deserves it and they are only giving him his due. As time goes by, however, the pictures of camaraderie relieve the terrible descriptions of front line assaults and death, and they provide a bright light in a place of such terrible darkness.
A young recruit becomes gun-shy in his first battle when a rocket fires and explosions begin. He creeps over to Paul and buries his head in Paul’s chest and arms, and Paul kindly, gently, tells him that he will get used to it (Chapter 4). Perhaps the two most amazing scenes of humanity and caring can be found in the story of the goose roasting and the battle where his comrades’ voices cause Paul to regain his nerve. In Chapter 5, Paul and Kat have captured a goose and are roasting it late at night.
Paul says, “We don’t talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have. We are two men, two minute sparks of life; outside is the night and the circle of death. ” As he watches Kat roasting the goose and hears his voice, it brings Paul peace and reassurance. Over and over again, in scenes of battle and scenes of rest, we see the comradeship of this tiny group of men. Even though Paul counts their losses at various points, he always considers their close relationship and attempts to keep them together to help each other.
In Chapter 9, when Paul is alone in the trench, he loses his nerve and his direction and is afraid he will die. Instead, he hears the voices of his friends: “I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life; we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way; I could bury my face in them in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me. ” There is a grace here, in the face of all sorrow and hopelessness, a grace that occurs when men realize their humanity and their reliance on others.
Through thick and thin, battle and rest, horror and hopelessness, these men hold each other up. Finally, Paul has only Kat and he loses even this friend and father-figure in Chapter 11. Kat’s death is so overwhelming and so final that we do not hear Paul’s reaction; we only see him break down in the face of it. There is such final irony in the medic’s question about whether they are related. This man, this hero, this father, this life — has been closer to Paul than his own blood relatives and yet Paul must say, “No, we are not related. ” It is the final stunning blow before Paul must go on alone.