” I am young, I am twenty years old; yet

I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast
over an abyss of sorrow…” All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich

Maria Remarque, is a vividly horrific verification of what went on at the front
of World War I. It goes deep into the souls of the men that were sent out to
‘heroically’ fight for their country. It follows the lives of these men,
young and old, that were forced to turn from everything that was ever important
to them in their lives. These men risked everything that they had, especially
their lives. As this story begins, Paul Baumer, a nineteen-year-old boy that
volunteers to enlist in the German army of World War I, is thought to have a
very creative mind and a positive outlook on his life. He loved school and most
of all he loved to write. Paul wrote many stories as well as poetry, currently
he was working on a play entitled “Saul”. This was his escape from the
world. Paul had always had an idealistic view on the war, at least that what he
was taught to believe. He and his classmates were made to believe that fighting
for their country was heroic and highly respectable. Kantorek, the boys’ head
school master, drilled these thoughts in their minds and made them think that
that enlisting and fighting were their only options. The boys took every word
that Kantorek spoke to heart and soon enlisted in the German army to fight in

World War I. After all, how were they to know what this war had in store for
them? Drills, drills, and more drills. The soldiers were being ‘prepared’
for life at the front. Paul is tired, very tired. He and his classmates are
reluctant about the whole fighting situation now. But they still had no idea
what they were in for at the front. Nothing could prepare them for it. They are
scared. Paul doesn’t know how to react, nor does he know what to think, he is
frozen with fear. Kantorek never mentioned the killing, or the blood, or the
mud. It all takes so much out of a man’s soul. The death of their
friend/classmate, Kemmerich, is hard for boys to take, but they continue to be
optimistic. Death is so common for them now as they have come to know it very
well. Instinct is the biggest factor in Paul’s life now, as well as the lives
of the other men fighting in this sickening war. They forget everything learned
in the classroom, for it all means nothing to them now. Death and war is all
they know. While home on leave, Paul feels isolated from his family and
neighbors. This is not his home anymore. He tries to write but only thoughts of
sorrow and death come to mind. Paul is not familiar with his home anymore. It
has come to the point where he feels more at home at the front with his friends.

Society doesn’t know the war like Paul and the other men do. They don’t know
how it feels to kill and to hurt, and they don’t know the pain. Chance rules
their lives now. In this story, Paul Baumer has significantly changed. His whole
attitude and outlook on life has changed, for the worse. He becomes so withdrawn
from the world around him. Everything has been taken from him and he feels that
he has nothing else left. Death has ruled his life for so long now and he
doesn’t know of anything else. World War I tore apart not only the life of

Paul Baumer, but of hundreds of thousands of men just like him

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