War Symbolism In All Quiet On The Western Front

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World War One was a very horrible and gruesome war in the early 20th century. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, about 8.5 million soldiers died during it, and there were over 37 million total casualties, making it one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, author Erich Maria Remarque describes the life of a WWI soldier and the effects it had on the men. Wilfred Owen wrote the poem Dulce et Decorum Est as a soldier during the war. Similarly, this poem focused on describing a scene of tired, weary soldiers experiencing one of their comrades dying. Both All Quiet on the Western Front and Dulce et Decorum Est focus on showing the horrors of war, challenging the idea that war is heroic and beautiful.…show more content…
Throughout the novel, Kemmerich’s boots were a symbol of death. At the very beginning, Kemmerich has recently had his leg amputated and is on his deathbed. The other men know this, and when a soldier dies, others get to keep his belongings. For instance, Paul describes Kemmerich’s boots as being wonderful since “they are things to be coveted” and that “Muller is delighted at the sight of them” (16). This helps show how important boots are to the soldiers, and how the men can’t wait to have them for themselves. However, later in the novel, Muller is wearing the boots during battle. He is shot in the stomach and dies shortly after. Moments before his death, Paul explains that he “bequeathed me his boots - the same that he once inherited from Kemmerich. I wear them, for they fit me quite well”(279). Muller gives these boots over to Paul, and now two people who have worn them have died. Right before the end of the book, Paul himself dies while wearing the boots. The death of every person who has worn his boots symbolizes the death in war: although war may seem pretty and desirable, it is actually dangerous and tormenting. The boots illustrate this by attaching the deep matter of death to a tangible object. Another technique Remarque uses is imagery in order to create a sense of sorrow and a desire for life before the war. In the first chapter of…show more content…
All Quiet on the Western Front focuses on the effect of war on the soldier and his everyday life. In the middle of the novel, Paul is given two weeks of leave from the war. He goes home, and he doesn’t know how to connect with his family, and feels distant from all the civilians. When he goes outside, he mentions “the screaming of the tramcars, which resembles the shriek of a shell” (165). This shows how war has changed Paul so much that now the sounds of trolleys bring him horrific flashbacks. Soon after he returns from his leave, his father and sister visit him to bring him gifts from his sick mother. When they get there, Paul says that they “do not know what to talk about” (196). This is another piece of evidence that shows how the war has distanced Paul from all other realities, such as his family. The theme of Dulce et Decorum Est is the horror of death, which is used to undermine the idea of war as noble. When the dying soldier is travelling in the cart, Owen describes the horrific noises he makes: “If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs” (19). This scene illustrates the painful and drawn - out death that the man is forced to have, and the soldiers all have to listen to it. Next, at the end of the poem, Owen leaves the reader with one last

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