All Quiet On The Western Fron Essay — страница 4

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joked is hurt badly and close to death. Baumer and Kat talk about a mercy killing for the young soldier, for they believe that only death will relieve him from his intense pain. Before they can actually decide or act, the rest of the unit arrives, thwarting any plans. Both men feel terrible for the new young recruit. Notes World War I was basically fought on land in trenches with both sides constructing intricate tunnels. The Western Front, which was approximately five hundred miles long, was the scene of many battles like the one presented in this chapter. It is the first time that the reader is actually seen military action in the book. Baumer’s unit has been assigned the duty of laying new barbed wire at the front line, a very dangerous job. From the moment of their arrival

at the front, the young soldiers are tense and watchful, fully aware of death’s proximity. Baumer comments that war is like a whirlpool whose vortex is slowly sucking them in. He looks at the ground below him and sees it in a new way; he realizes that the earth is the soldier’s best friend, who can either give him new life or take his life away. The soldiers lay the barbed wire without incident; when the job is complete, they rest. Soon, however, an intense shelling begins; both men and horses are hit. As the horses moan in pain, accusing the men of their wrongdoing, Baumer manages to crawl into a shell hole in a graveyard; he finds he is sharing the hole with a coffin and a corpse, but can do nothing about it. Before long the entire graveyard is strewn with corpses and empty

coffins, disturbed by the shelling. The author notes that during the bombing the relationship between the dead and the alive becomes intimate. Baumer points out that the flinging of each corpse from a grave probably saved the life of one soldier. The description of battle is very vivid in this scene. Remarque spares no detail in describing the acrid smells, the piercing sounds, the wounded soldiers, the moaning horses, the corpses strewn in the graveyard, or the empty coffins. The author also manages to realistically capture Baumer’s emotions during the battle. Chapter 5 The soldiers return to their huts. They pass their time killing lice and waiting for Himmelstoss. They casually discuss what they would do if peace were declared. Tjaden jokingly says he wants to spend the rest

of his life torturing Himmelstoss. Westhus wants to join a peacetime army. Kropp believes that the war has permanently ruined them; he fears that after the war, they will be good for nothing. It is Baumer, however, that truly captures the depression of this wartime generation: “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.” When Himmelstoss finally appears, Tjaden insults him. Though the company commander, Lieutenant Bertinck, is sympathetic to Baumer and his friends, he is forced to punish them for any insubordination. As a result, Tjaden and Kropp are given “open arrest;” it is an intentionally light

sentence. At the end of the chapter, Baumer and Kat entertain themselves by roasting a stolen goose. As they enjoy eating the goose together, they appear as “two minute sparks of life; outside is the night and the circle of death.” Once again the life/death theme is clearly depicted by Remarque. Notes In this chapter, Remarque continues to build on the life/death theme that runs throughout the book. Like chapters 1 and 3, this section is about life, living, and friendship and serves as a bridge between two bleak chapters. For the moment, the soldiers are at rest, away from the front, dreaming of peacetime. Tjaden actually jokes about Himmelstoss and then openly insults the old drillmaster when he arrives. Baumer and Kat cook a stolen goose and enjoy each other’s company;

but at the end of the chapter, the author reminds the reader of the “circle of death” that surrounds them. In war, it is impossible to separate life from death. As a result, every lighter chapter in the book is preceded and followed by one filled with the horror of death at the battlefront; as a result, the structure of the book enhances the main theme of the book, that war brings senseless destruction, followed by moral decay. The repeated contrast between life away from the front and the fear of death at the battle line is very effective. Chapter 6 The Germans and Allies are again involved in a fierce battle that begins with an artillery bombardment, followed by an infantry attack. Baumer and his friends are in the trenches. Before the charge begins, Baumer feels like he is