Fear of war
Unlike Brittain, the book, All Quiet on the Western Front narrates the story of Paul Baumer, the German soldier who was at the western front in the World War I and the brutality encountered by soldiers in war. Paul joined the military after listening to patriotic speeches from his teacher(Remarque). Through wartime of intense horror, Paul holds a single declaration of fighting against the hatred that senselessly pits youth (male), of a similar generation, but having one distinction, that is, different uniforms to be against each other. His vows could be made possible if at all he could come out of the battle alive. As it is a narration of neither accusation nor confession, and death being a less adventure for those stand face to face with it, the book tries to explain the generation of men who by chance escaped the deaths shells but got shattered by the war. While other novels before All Quiet on the Western Frontromanticized war, the book replaced the glory and war heroism with fear, butchery, and meaninglessness. From the text, Remarque dramatizes savagery of battles as it affects both physical and psychological wellbeing of soldiers. The horror of war as stated by Paul depicts, mocking critique of nationalism, showing its hypocritical ideology as a tool used by those in power. Paul and his fellow soldiers were seduced to join military due to nationalism idea. Remarque illustrates that the soldiers in the forefront do not kill for glory, but for their survival, they kill to keep themselves from being killed. Additionally, Paul does not consider their opponents as enemies but rather the men in power who are after glory.
Negative impacts of war on soldiers
Not focusing on the heroic actions, the book gives a view of situations in which soldiers at the time find themselves in, tedium between battles, artillery threats, bombardments, and struggle for food, inadequate war preparedness and overarching roles of random chances of survival of soldiers. In the text, Paul states that the cost of the war in his psyche, make soldiers feel out of place after the war, a feeling of being old and dead drained and shaken emotionally. From his experience, Paul had a negative attitude toward war, as soldiers are subjected to physical danger, forcing them to cope with both primal and intuitive fear, soldiers are forced to survive in inhuman conditions (waterlogged conditions full of decaying corpse and lice). Moreover, they are forced to handle the frequent and sudden death of their friends in proximity and violent fashions. This subject them to emotional disconnection hence destructive impact on humanity. Remarque then shows the whole experience as an overall burden of misery and panicamong soldiers. They are forced to disconnect and suppress their emotions and boldly accepting their way of life, though it has huge destructive outcomes on their humanity.Evidently, when Paul fails to remember his experience in the past at the same time, he is unable to picture the future without war. He loses the ability to communicate with his family constantly, they (soldiers) don’t mourn their fallen fellows, evidence during the death of Kemmerich; soldiers only discussed who to inherit the boots. However, as a result of the shared experience in war, the soldier’s portray a bond of loyalty as well as the friendship that shows soldiers fundamental humanity in the novel. In the end, the major character of war (Paul) dies symbolizing war as a devastating effect on youth, the young generation forced into it.
Nationalist ideal and greed for political muscle
According to the perception of many, participation in World War I is viewed as a nationalist idea among competing nations. It is perceived as fundamental for their existence, loyalty, and identity. The concept of ethics of nationalism wasn’t new, however, it got magnified in the World War I. As Remarque portrays the horror of war, the novel critique this idea displaying its flaws as hollow, full of hypocrisy and used as a tool for those in power to control other nations for the sake of fame and superiority. As seen in the text, Paul and the other comrades were convinced to join military, though the experience of fighting was not admirable as it exposed them to war horrors. Patriots (Kantorek and Himmelstoss) stresses the immodesty of the outmoded morals in the current welfare. Affirming this, Remarque in his explanations, states that soldiers at the front in most cases do not fight for the glory of their mother nation but for their lives. They kill the opponents to keep themselves from being killed. Additionally, the soldiers do not consider their opponents as enemies. Instead, they perceive those in power in their nation as enemies, who sacrifices soldiers to increase power and glory.
Presently, the Testament of Youth is a true reflection of the modern social and cultural inventory of the middle class, the after-effects of war not only on soldiers but to the nation, and the effects of gender inequity in Britain. From her work and testimony, Vera Brittain’s illustrates and acts as an example to women portraying their ability to take control over their lives, social and cultural change agent and advocates for an equal world for all. Brittain and Remarque share a lot of things in common. First, there are antiwar. They perceive it not to be morally right as innocent lives are claimed at the expense of power and glory. In the novel All the Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque illustrates the negative impacts associated with war, as he namesit, horror of war, pointing out nationalism ideal and effects of war on soldier and humanity, similarly, the war deprived Brittain a chance to acquire education that was a rare chance to women. The chance to receive education made her to engage in campaigns against apartheid openly, nuclear proliferation and colonialism hence she brought liberation from her wartime experience. In essence the two advocates for equity peace socially and culturally acceptable morals.
Badenhausen, Richard. “Mourning through Memoir: Trauma, Testimony, and Community in Vera Brittain’s‘ Testament of Youth.’” Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 49, no. 4, JSTOR, 2003, pp. 421–48.
Brittain, Vera. Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. Vol. 68, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2004.
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