|Cole Vikupitz Vikupitz 1
March 3, 2011
AQWF- Timed Essay Prompt
In Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front he shows the reader several themes throughout the novel. One of these themes is dehumanization. Throughout the book many of the characters are affected by the war psychologically causing some of them to become insane. Paul demonstrates how the war dehumanizes himself. We also see one soldier in the novel become crazed and insane. All of these horrific events of World War I are the reason that the soldiers dehumanize as explained by Remarque. As a result Paul dehumanizes over the course of the novel due to the horrific events of the war and the death of many of his comrades, which also may have led to Paul’s death.
After Paul joins the war he explains that he is no longer able to love life, and that he no longer believes in a happy life. Before the war Paul states that he is eighteen and has begun to finally love life as explained in the quote: “We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity from striving, from progress, we believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war” (pg. 88). In this statement Paul makes he says that he ruined his love for life by joining the war. All of his hopes and desires were “bombed” in his heart. War then becomes Paul’s only priority, he no longer has any other desires of a normal human being. This causes Paul to dehumanize throughout the course of the novel.
One scene in the novel shows us about how other soldiers dehumanize around Paul and give in to claustrophobia and insanity. Paul uses animal imagery to describe his comrades and how they
dehumanize like in the quote: “He listens and for a moment his eyes become clear. Then again he has the glowering eyes of a mad dog, he is silent, he shoves me aside” (pg. 54). As explained in this quote the claustrophobic recruit can’t stand being in the trenches any longer. He begins listening to reason but his emotions overshadow him instead so he easily dehumanizes, much like the boys from The Lord of the Flies did when they landed on the island. They stopped thinking about the reasons for their actions and instead just did the things they wanted.
Many soldiers from World War I, as explained in All Quiet on the Western Front, all survived due to being “indifferent”, despite Paul’s dehumanization in the novel. Remarque presents his readers with this quote: “The only reason a soldier manages to survive in the trenches is because he is ‘indifferent’ and often ‘hopeless’” (pg. 196). Remarque gives his readers this quote to present the insight to the psychology of a soldier, a soldier who had to endure such horrific conditions of the war. This quote comes from Remarque personally because he fought in World War I. He most likely wrote All Quiet on the Western Front from his own personal experiences. Remarque writes the quote because he too may have dehumanized in World War I, and some of Remarque’s comrades may have too.
Therefore in Remarque’s all Quiet on the Western Front dehumanization takes place as a common theme in the novel. Paul dehumanizes in the novel after joining the war and the death of his comrades. The readers also briefly see the dehumanization of the recruit early on in the novel. Finally Remarque presents a quote that shows how soldiers overcome their dehumanization, since Remarque fought in World War I himself. As a result, dehumanization is one of the most common themes in the novel because Remarque describes it from his own experiences.