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How Does Erich Maria Remarque Portray the Horror and Futility of war in All quiet on the western front?

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Introduction

How Does Erich Maria Remarque Portray the Horror and Futility of war in All quiet on the western front? The First World War came at time of social unrest where years of tension between the expanding empires of European countries led to a situation where all that was needed to start a war was a small event known as a trigger. This trigger came in the form of the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, by a member of a Serb national group known as the Black Hand gang. The assassin's name was Gavrilo Princip. Little did he know what terror he was about to unleash. At the time of the assassination Europe was in political turmoil and split into two distinct groups, members of the Allied forces France, Britain and Russia known as the Triple Entante and Members of the Axis forces, Germany, Austria Hungary and Turkey known as the Triple Alliance. These two groups vowed to help the countries within them if war started. ...read more.

Middle

When the cook asks where the rest of the company is he is simply told "Pushing up daises". At this point although the reader may be shocked at the loss of the large number of men and the callous manner in which Tjadan refers to them, they are probably not as emotionally affected as they will be later in the book because seventy is just a number. The men who died do not as far as the reader is concerned, have lives; they are just numbers. It is not until later that Remarque starts to put lives to the numbers and make the deaths of men all the more tragic and horrific. Thus working on the pacifist theme. The callous manner in which the soldiers refer to the dead is not because they are evil and cold, but because war has taught them that if they become involved with every death emotionally then it will just greaten their own suffering. Tjadan, after hearing the cook had prepared food for one hundred and fifty people rather then mourning the dead, says, "each man gets practically two issues". ...read more.

Conclusion

The Futility of war is shown right through the book but is particularly evident when the group of central characters discuss alternative methods of fighting a war. "The generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing-drawers and armed with clubs can have it out among themselves." Although being a humorous suggestion it still relates to the fact that "the wrong people were doing the fighting" and the leaders of the countries had attempted to turn their men into fighting machines. "Individuals are no longer recognisable" This book gives an excellent insight into the First World War through the eyes of a Pacifist. The horror and futility of war is portrayed graphically and disturbingly, making a mockery of some of the propaganda of the time encouraging young men to join up and fight for their countries. The book destroys much of the glamorous image of war and what was described as "The Iron Youth". Remarque certainly achieved his objective of showing war in its true colours and produced a powerful and enjoyable book in the process. ...read more.

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