All Quiet on the Western Front

A Universal Loss of Innocence: Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Title: A Universal Loss of Innocence: Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Author: Katherine Perry

Words: 1,139

Written: January 23, 2009

Paul Bäumer lives in a world where killing is the only way to live, memories are as foreign as the enemy himself, and a single bombardment can age a man fifty years. He lives in a world of ceaseless violence and tragedy and yet he is numb — too estranged from his past to seek solace in recollections of his youth and too hopeless to fathom the possibility of escaping the hellish reality of his present. Paul Bäumer is lost, but he is not alone. Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front is a harrowing account of the human face of war and the poignant psychological wounds that inflict an entire generation. Remarque’s novel tells of a universal loss of innocence that left an entire demographic estranged, dehumanized, and disillusioned.

In the novel, Remarque describes a core of men who know how to play cards, swear and fight – something he says is “not much for twenty years — and yet too much for twenty years” (89). When Paul and his comrades joined the army they were mere teenagers, unaware that the war would strip them completely of their youth. “We are none of us more than...

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