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War impact permanent psychological strains on soldiers every time it occurs, and the novel by Erich Maria Remarque has significantly contributed to this belief. Being a German veteran of World War I, the author understands the effects of being involved in the war as a soldier. Soldiers experience physical, and mental distresses, which are caused by several factors that are attributes of war. This paper, therefore, seeks to explain how war can cause physical and mental trauma on soldiers during and after the war as presented by Erich in the novel ‘All Quiet on the western front.
A brief history of the book
The novel was first published in 1928 although it was after that banned in Nazi Germany due to its controversial exposure of the soldiers’ experiences. The author exposes the war front by presenting it as a dangerous zone. In his book, he refers to the dangers of the war zone as dirty conditions of warfare (Remarque 23). In a bid to make explain the dangers involved, the author uses a fictional character, namely Paul Bauner. Paul is exposed to the dirty conditions of warfare, and his life was changed by those experiences.
Physical implications of war
The author says at the beginning of the novel that although the soldiers may have escaped death, they remain destroyed by the effects and conditions of war (Remarque 23). The author is quick to clarify that the book is not a confession neither an accusation but an expression of an untold story about the effects of war on soldiers. When soldiers are out for war, they are exposed to physical strains in the field. In instances of war, there are low chances of survival owing to the constant threats of artillery fire and bombardments (Remarque 25).
Other impacts include the stress and difficulties of finding food while in the field. This can cause malnutrition implications, hence compromising the soldiers’ physical strength. In some extreme cases, young and untrained recruits are forced to join in the war (Remarque 32). The book explains the plight of both living and dead soldiers. The author laments that soldiers are poorly compensated, especially after they die in the line of duty. Soldiers are affected mentally by the exposure along with the random chances of survival and death of their colleagues. The author calls the living soldiers dead due to their emotionally drained personalities (Remarque 34).
Mental implications of war
He says, “We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing from ourselves, from our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world, and we had to shoot it to pieces” (56). Through his character, Paul, the author displays the effects of war on a soldier’s psyche. When he visited his home while on leave, he found his town to be strange, and it seemed like he was out of place (Remarque 67). The kind of detachment he felt led him to wish that he had not visited.
This paper has explained the theme of the consequences of war as presented by Erich Maria Remarque in his novel ‘All Quiet on the western front.’ The paper shows how war can result in both physical and mental implications. The paper also seeks to explain how soldiers get detached from civilian life while spending time in the training camps.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the western front, United states of America, USA: Ballantine Books, 1987. Print.