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An Un Glorified Portrayal Of War Essay

1618 words - 7 pages

An Un-glorified Portrayal of War The year is 1970, and it is the height of the Vietnam War. The U.S. has just sent in a company of five soldiers on a search and destroy mission. Suddenly, twenty Vietnamese soldiers armed with machetes and machine guns attack them. The five soldiers seem impervious to the bullets and knives, as they hold together, and return fire. In less than ten seconds, the enemy soldiers are dead, despite the fact that they had the 4:1 advantage. One of the American soldiers finds that his arm is bleeding, and quickly rips a piece of his uniform off, and ties it around his arm to stem the blood. They continue on as if nothing had happened. Portrayals of war in this ...view middle of the document...

The critic goes on to say that one realizes this war, this near-apocalyptic event that spanned a horrible four years, ripped all sense of civilization away from them and trampled it into bloody soil of the trenches (Gunton 324). For example, in the beginning of the novel, a soldier named Detering, longs for his farm and wife, where he just wants to work on his farm, and be at peace, away from all the shelling and gun-fire. Another soldier, Paul, who is also the narrator, goes home, but finds that he is "[not himself] there. There is a distance, a veil between [him and his home]" (Remarque 160 Ch 7).In addition to showing people things that other novels have made familiar to them, like the trenches, pain, lice and hunger, the book also shows one the inner drama; the fall of a group of schoolmates who were destroyed by the war before the first shell or gun-fire was ever heard (Gunton 325). It showed that hhe war changed the schoolmates from the students they were, to the prematurely aged men they are now; or, as the narrator of the novel says, "young? That is long ago. We are old folk now" (Remarque 18 Ch 1). In a sense, the war has destroyed the youths even before the material weapons in the war destroyed them. In the book, Remarque wanted to put his audience in the mindset of how it felt to fight in the war, and to show them what it did to the youth of the world more than to give them a written documentary on the war. As he says himself, "[m]ore than anything else, the novel represents the emotional impact of the war on the young generation of recruits who fought it" (Magill Vol. 1).Throughout the first half of the book, Paul and his comrades relate how little of the 10 years in school have helped them, and goes on to say how they have learned more in the few days of the fighting than they have in all their years of schooling. When the war ends, they will go back to nothing, at least not the students. In short, as Albert puts it, "The war has ruined us for everything" (Remarque 87 Ch 5). Through this, Remarque has shown that the war has not only affected the soldiers through wounds and mental pain, but also in the long-run, as they have nothing to go back home to, not back to their previous lives and not back to a normal life, and that is if they survive the war first. As Remarque himself put it, "I have not felt myself called upon to argue about the war"¦I merely wanted to awaken the understanding for a generation that more than all the others have found it difficult to make its way back from the four years of death, struggle and terror, to the peaceful fields of work and progress"¦" (Remarque Gale), and this he has done very well.Critics have agreed that All Quiet on the Western Front is an un-glorified novel that is "thoroughly lacking in all bugle calls, all flag waving, all false patriotism; it is just war" (Discovering Authors Modules). For instance, during Paul's leave in his hometown, there are no bugles, no crowds awaiting...

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