All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran during World War I, is a novel that negatively paints the war. War has been depicted as an event that produces horrible and experiences not only to the soldiers but also the citizens in All Quiet on the Western Front. War messages are plenty of literature with novels, poems, and narratives being the most common. Nevertheless, other forms of art, such as paintings are used to communicate to people about the war. The absurd thing is that most of the literature and art pieces ignore the positive aspects associated with war, such as patriotism, glory, and duty among other themes. Instead, war is portrayed as being catastrophic. As a result, this makes us be filled with fear every time we think about war. It is, however, inarguable that violence is terrible and everyone wants to live in a peaceful land, but literature should also depict the right side of the war as much as it shows the wrong side.
In the first chapter of his novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque writes, “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war” (Remarque). This passage scares the reader merely by the mentioning of the word death, which is a good thing and they are left contemplating how worse could it be that an armed soldier is left defenseless when they go to war and their chances to survive are unpredictable. This makes the readers, even those who perhaps, would love to join the army to protect their country to have a negative attitude. What is more, the passage emphasizes that the boot is telling the story as it happened without any fiction and this frightens the reader even more.
Even though telling the truth is always the best choice, the biases in All Quiet on the Western Front are farfetched. The author does not also try to show the bravery or heroism exhibited by the soldiers but instead, concentrates on showing the reader what a desperate and violent situation it is when one finds them at war. The soldiers often try their best to bring home victory, which is one of the most significant impacts that war can have on a nation but the author does not want the audience to have that perspective.
War has a wide range of benefits as evident from the history of World War I and II, which are barely mentioned in books, cinema, and arts. For instance, war is largely attributed to social adjustments, such as liberation and the withdrawal of dangerous regimes. For instance, America would not be the world’s superpower, and as free as it is it not for the world war. Most of the books and films, with the help of the surviving veterans, emphasize the traumas of war, and very little is recognized about the benefits of the latter (Coker). One is convinced of the evils of war by seeing and even hearing stories of the soldiers who survived, but on the other side, it brings good, which is ignored. Literature and arts should show the right side of the war as much as it looks into the bad side. By doing so, the readers will be motivated, and those who would like to join the army will have more courage. Every country requires a strong army that will defend and fight for the interests of the nation when the need arises lest it becomes unstable and subject to manipulation by other countries. Authors, can, for instance, show the good post-war events in their film to assure the audience that war is not a bad thing after all and that they are living in peace because of the soldiers who went to defend their nation.
War messages should bring hope, an aspect that lacks in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front. In chapter one, Remarque writes from the testimony of one of the soldiers: “For us lads of eighteen they ought to have been mediators and guides to the word of maturity…to the future…in our hearts we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in our minds with greater insight and more gentle wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief” (Remarque). This statement gives the reader a perception that there is betrayal between the young and the old generation. The young are convinced by the elderly to die for their country as a sign of patriotism and bravery. In reality, young people have more energy to fight unlike old people, and as such, there is no betrayal.
Coker, Christopher. Ethics and War in the 21st Century. Routledge, 2008.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2004.