All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque has made me think differently ever since I finished reading it. It strikes me how connected you can feel to a character – in this case, Paul. It changes the way you think about wars and how they affect the people fighting. Paul’s life is destroyed and ruined by war. When he is finally home, he doesn’t know what to do, who to talk to. It makes me think about war and why it even exists.
The final chapters of All Quiet on The Western Front leave the reader feeling sympathetic towards Paul because the last of Paul’s friend group is killed and he is left with no one at all. He becomes depressed and starts to believe that he won’t know what to do when the war is over. He then ends up being killed as the war ends. An example of this is on page 67. “We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.” This is sad because even though he is on the “wrong” side that being on the German army he has no choice and many of the people like him are just puppets being used and forced to do people in power’s bidding.
We learn something interesting about one of the characters, Kropp, on page 203 where it says “We are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who’s in the right?” This is typical of how the character acts in the book so far. He often seems to be questioning the morality and justification of war and how there is no such thing as good or bad in war for soldiers, because from their perspective they have to do what they have been told to do. To them they are fulfilling their “duty” to serve their country. This changes the way the reader thinks not just of Kropp, but of war, and I believe that’s why he is such an important character in this book. Most readers wouldn’t want to be friends with him, because a lot of people are against the Central Powers, but I think many would like to have a discussion with him.
After page 203, most readers will probably look forward to reading the rest of this book. The reason I say this is because Kropp and Paul are such complex characters and feel very “human”. What I mean by that is that they seem like real soldiers during World War 1, not like some crazy, over-the-top characters. And by the end of the book they will either be dead or they will return home and be blamed for the failure of the German army. If that happens, they will have all of these built up emotions that they don’t know who to talk to about besides each other. They will be completely lost.Tags: Harvest Collegiate High School