The World War I was more than a global war for the contemporary people. It turned out to be a large-scale catastrophe. Many pieces of research claim that it became a disaster for the people because the new unknown rules guided the war. The novel by Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front gives the understanding of the gap between before and after periods of people`s lives. The paper describes the feelings and thoughts of people when the war became positional, as provided in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front.
Every war forces people to change the worldviews. At war, people can kill an enemy, and each soldier is ready to die if he or she knows the aim of the death. Thus, when the war is finished, the life never becomes the same as it was before. The change is especially visible after the carnages of the World War I.
For the four years, the soldiers had been conducting the warfare without seeing any sense in the violent actions. They were defending their motherland, but hardly anyone could name the enemy. The war brought abrupt changes to the division of authority among the world powers and became a catalyzer for the revolutions and the decay of empires. The numerous changes influenced the lives of ordinary people.
Erich Remarque Maria in his novel All Quiet on the Western Front wrote about the suffering during the war, love and friendship in the hardships. The wars that followed the World War I were more severe and murderous. Thus, the sufferings of people in the next wars became more serious. The topics discussed in the novel reflected in the later works of Remarque. After the World War II, people understood that the novel forecasted many of the future events. However, the people did not hear the warnings, which caused more severe consequences.
The main hero of the novel, Paul, is the 18 years old German called up to the front. His friends and he had not only to struggle with the enemies, but also to overcome the unbearable conditions. The novel describes the movement of Paul to the positions, his comeback to the native town, the front, injury, hospital and the front again. It seems that there is no end of the war and sufferings. Paul and his coevals did not know other life but the war. The constant life in war is the main reason for them to be considered the lost generation. The logical end of the novel is when Paul was killed in October 1918.
The heroes of the novel did not exist in the real life; however, the images allow the readers to understand the real heroes of the war. They are the ordinary people who wanted to live in peace, but had to defend their motherland. Thus, the success in that war was measured not by the number of victories, but by the ability to remain humane in difficult situations.
The comparison provides a better understanding of life. It is possible to understand the heaven only when being in the hell. Paul Baumer and his friends recollected the previous life as a paradise. Indeed, the human memory usually protects the pleasant events. When missing the heaven staying in the hell of the war, the heroes of the novel survive only due to the hope to find the lost paradise again back home. They experience a fine psychological moment. At the war, the heroes were disappointed due to the nationalistic and chauvinistic ideas of the government and the country. In the real life, they discovered that the paradise did not exist. The disappointment with the life away from the front was far bitterer.
In fact, Paul Baumer understands that his heaven is lost forever. He says that
“men will not understand us—for the generation that grew up before us, though it has passed these years with us already had a home and a calling; now it will return to its old occupations, and the war will be forgotten—and the generation that has grown up after us will be strange to us and push us aside. We will be superﬂuous even to ourselves, we will grow older, a few will adapt themselves, some others will merely submit, and most will be bewildered; —the years will pass by and in the end we shall fall into ruin. (Remarque).”
However, Paul`s hope to find the lost paradise survived. His belief in a better future made Remarque sympathize his heroes. Most of the characters, including Paul, die with the hope to come back to the heaven. Erich Maria Remarque states that
“He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.”
The readers have an opportunity to see the peaceful life of Paul Baumer during his holidays. He is not the same soldier, but he cannot imagine himself in the future. Paul cannot understand how people may live the ordinary life when the front sees a severe struggle and numerous killings of people. At the same time, he does not want to explain the terrors to the people, who consider the period a high time to attack and not to carry out a positional war. For the people in villages and cities, everything is quiet on the Western Front, even if thousands of people are dying. Paul Baumer makes a conclusion that the war and the peace exist only at the front, but not in the peaceful life.
According to Remarque, every person at the war plays an important role even if the necessity of the war is doubtful. However, the war impersonalizes people, and each hero described by Remarque is the real person in the lives of thousands of people. Despite the fact that one person is unable to change the sequence of war, he or she can carry out the social function of the motherland defense. Nevertheless, Remarque allows the heroes to make a choice and does not condemn the defection.
The novel gives the readers an opportunity to understand the people`s thinking in the time of war. Sometimes the Remarque`s heroes are considered to be passive and not the fighters. However, the same passive people are the combatants, because they do not struggle for the high values and ideas. They want the opportunity to survive, to remain humane and to be able to have a peaceful living in future. A person at a war is not a German, a French or a Russian, not a peasant, a worker or a student. A person at a war is just a soldier or a comrade. Only fiction allows the readers to see the personality of the soldiers that do not constitute the single notion of any country’s army.
The novel allows seeing the cruelty of the war; however, often people do not understand the lessons, which may cause severe consequences in future. People have to take into account the events of the past to avoid the same mistakes in the future and not to cause a bloody global war in future.