Bonds of War: Soldier bonds in “All Quiet on the Western Front”
In stressful situations, people use connections with things to help them overcome the horrors in the situations. In the Military, many soldiers experience very stressful and intense situations. They use connections with cigarettes, fellow soldiers and music to help them get through these situations. In society, people use drugs, alcohol, and friends to help get through intense situations. Paul uses the connection with soldiers on both sides to help him overcome the horrors of war. In the novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque Paul Bäumer experiences the German front of World War One. Through the devastation of the war, the author conveys that Paul’s strong bonds grow as his pity for the enemy’s misfortune grows, Paul’s relationship with soldiers as it is his only thing to hold on to in the horrors of war on the front reflects the author’s negative view on the war.
The bond between Paul and his fellow comrades strengthen throughout the novel, this conveys a negative depiction of war. After they return from the front, Paul’s comrade Kemmerich is slowly dying and is in pain, Paul and his friends get the attention of a medical assistant to ease the pain, “he refuses…I press a few more cigarettes into his hand…Well, all right, he says…Kropp goes in with him. He doesn’t trust him and wants to see” (17) Comradeship is an extremely strong bond between people. Paul knows that Kemmerich will die soon and it does not matter if he helps him or does not help him. Paul is willing to give the desirable items to ease a fellow soldier’s passing at his cost. Someone who gives valuable items to cause that does not really matter shows a strong bond between people. (it doesn’t really matter because Kemmerich will die soon) Further, Kropp goes in to see that he actually gives the medicine to ease the pain. Kropp really has the intentions for Kemmerich to have an easy passing, otherwise he would not make sure the medicine is given. The bond between the men is evident but a luxury, the comradeship is nice to have but not needed for survival. In this case, it was nice for Kemmerich to have an easier passing but not needed. This shows a negative depiction of war because Paul’s comrades is slowly dying depicting a very painful death. Paul is trapped in a shell hole and without hope when he hears Kat talking, “at once a new warmth flows through me…they are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear, they are the strongest and most comforting thing there is anywhere, they are the voices of my comrades.” (212) Comradeship is an extremely strong bond between people. This quote shows comradeship because Paul’s connection to his fellow soldiers is stronger than his connection a mother has to their child, universally known as an extremely strong connection. Further, Paul comments that just the voices of his fellow soldiers are the most comforting thing anywhere, too have voices be the most comforting thing shows the strong bond between the soldiers. The bond between the men is more or less necessity for survival. In this case, it is the voices of the comrades who comfort him in a distressing situation. This shows a negative depiction of war because he is trapped in a shell hole a desperate and dramatic situation. It shows depiction because the comrade is more comforting than anything shows pure negatively. Paul comments on the stress of war, “then the muffled roar of the battle becomes a ring that encircles us…our only comfort is the steady breathing of our comrades asleep, and thus we wait for morning.” (275) Comradeship is an extremely strong bond between people. This quote shows comradeship because Paul is comforted by the breathing of his fellow soldier despite the extreme conditions and sounds that remind him of death and traumatizing events. Generally, someone would not be comforted with shelling and the background noise of the battle, knowing that death was occurring. Paul being comforted by the comrades shows that his bond between his comrades is so strong that it overcomes traumatizing events. This shows the negative viewpoint on the war because the bombs circle the total miserly, that the situation is so bad that Paul has to have the comfort of people who is he completely friends with. Paul’s friend Kat is hit and Paul says, “I am very miserable, it is impossible that Kat, my friend Kat…with home I have shared these years…couldn’t I just shoot myself quickly in the foot so as to be able to go with him” (289) Comradeship is an extremely strong bond between people. Generally, people do not inflict harm on themselves. Paul wants to and considers inflicting serious harm by shooting himself with a gun, an action that could possibly lead to his death to stay with his fellow soldier. Someone who would risk their life to stay with someone shows an extreme strong bond. This shows negative depiction because Paul is so desperate that he wants to almost kill himself to stay with someone. Kat is hit and Paul carries him when an officer comments that Kat is dead. Paul, “…the sweat breaks out on me again, it runs over my eyelids. I wipe it away and peer at Katkat…fainted, I say quickly.” (290) Paul does not believe or even think that Kat is dead. He starts to become very scared and does not believe that Kat is dead. Paul starts to sweat an indicator that he is extremely scared. He becomes very scared as he does not know what he can do without the strong bond. He does not believe the fact, he does not want to believe the fact showing that the strong bond proceeds through factual evidence. This shows a negative view on war as Paul cannot believe that his friend died. It shows that the situation is so bad that Paul cannot believe factual evidence.
The protagonist’s pity for the opposition because of their situation strengthens throughout the novel this conveys a negative depiction of war. “Under one of the helmets a dark pointed beard and two eyes that are fastened on me. I raise my hand, but I cannot throw into those strange eyes; for one mad moment the whole slaughter whirls like a circus around me, and those two eyes alone are emotionless.” (113) This shows comradeship. The sympathy for the enemy is brief. Paul cannot initially throw the grenade. The sympathy for the enemy exist for a second but nothing other than that. Paul does not know what to do. The sympathy for the enemy does not massively extend beyond the instant. Paul’s interactions with real enemies and he already starts to feel sympathy for something that is just recent. Paul This shows a negative view on the war because the tension and the traumatic events on Paul. We have become wild beasts, We don’t fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. It is not against men that we flight our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down…” (113) This shows comradeship through that it is not men that they are fighting. This is Paul’s first interaction with the real enemies. Paul does not think of them as beast or something degenerative that is typical for one to say at the opponent. He merely puts them in the same category but does not comment on sympathy or not sympathy it is simply neutral. This shows a negative depiction of war as death is hunting down, a completely negative image. It is not positive at all. On guard over the Russians, Paul notices the terrible conditions that they are in. He takes out his cigarettes and, “…break each one in half and give them to the Russians.” (194) Sympathy for the enemy is a feeling of pity at the opposition’s misfortune. Paul feels bad for the Russians as he notes earlier it is distressing to watch the Russians. Generally, if one feels bad for someone in a bad situation, they try to contribute something that would help the bad situation. Paul expresses his feeling of pity for the opposition’s misfortune by giving the enemy a desired item. Furthermore, cigarettes are universally known as substances that are used to calm people down. Paul knows this and gives them the substance to help them deal with the terrible situation. Someone who gives something useful to deal with the bad situation expresses immense sympathy for someone, in this case the enemy. Paul shares valuable resources for comfort with the Russian prisoners. This depicts a negative view because the conditions are so bad for all the prisoners that Paul feels bad and wants to make the conditions better for all. Paul deeply sorry and filled with regret comments to the dead french soldier that he killed, “comrade, I did not want to kill you. . . . But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. . . . I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late.” (223) Paul feels a huge amount of sympathy for the enemy as he comments to the dead man. The man that Paul comments to is already dead, it is not needed for Paul to even look at him. Generally, someone who talks regret to someone who is already dead feels pity and sympathy for that person. Paul goes completely further by comparing the the enemy to a comrade, a person who he as a very strong bond with. He feels desperately regretful. He compares his action as an instinct, something that he didn’t really come up with, the action was done before he could do anything about it. This depicts a negative view about war because the conditions and the terror is so bad it causes man to react in irrational ways. Man cannot really deal with the traumatic situations. Paul is filled with pity for the opposition’s misfortune, “I will write to your wife, I say hastily to the dead man, I will write to her , she must hear it from me, I will tell her everything I have told you, she shall not suffer, I will help her, and your parents too, and your child-” (224) Paul feels a huge amount of sympathy for the enemy as he comments to the dead man. Paul feels as though he owes the man something that happened. He feel immense sympathy that he feels he wants to make the situation better. He feels as though that making it better will help ease the pain and suffering. Generally, one only does this to people that feels as though someone who is filled with sympathy. This depicts a negative view of war because it shows that someone who has experienced war as experienced the terrible and horrific depictions of war and how they cope with it.
Paul’s relationships with soldiers demonstrate the horrors of the war. Paul’s strong bonds show the effect the war can have and the only way to really deal with the war. Society needs to find ways to avoid traumatic situations like war so that bonds are not a necessity rather something that is nice to have. War comradeship is looked as such a good thing and sympathy for the enemy is looked as bad because it shows weakness. Rather, both should appear as negative as they are forced, outcomes of a negative situation.
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