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Human Animals

In: English and Literature

Submitted By onwardwall
Words 1301
Pages 6
“Human Animals”:
Dehumanization Through Words in Erich Maria Remarque’s
All Quiet on the Western Front

“We cloak ourselves in cold indifference to the unnecessary suffering of others, even when we cause it.”
– James Carroll

War ruins men. It is a beast, which destroys their bodies, minds, and morals. Facing the all too personal horrors of war, Erich Maria Remarque places his protagonist, Paul, and his comrades into situations where detachment is one of the few ways out, leading to their eventual regression. They begin to lose themselves into an abyss of shockingly unaffected and detached behaviour in order to cope with the war and the loss of their comrades. Through the use of the first person point of view, recurring motifs, and strong characterisation, Remarque explores the isolation brought about by this dehumanization on the front lines of the First World War in All Quiet on the Western Front.
In choosing to use the first person point of view, Remarque allows the reader to identify more closely with, as well as understand more clearly, Paul’s evolving detachment from the world around him. From the novel’s opening it is Paul’s thoughts which set the tone. Paul first appears to be an optimist who does not dwell on the deaths of those whom he does not know. Despite the fact they left one hundred and fifty men strong and returned with only eighty, Paul describes the day as “wonderfully good”, after all “the mail has come, and almost every man has a few letters and papers” (Remarque, 3) to read. It is almost as if he has no regard for the magnitude and true meaning of the loss. This changes with the introduction of Kemmerich. In contrast to the Paul first introduced, he is profoundly affected by his friend’s death. Had Remarque not used the first person, the description of Kemmerich would not have been so emotionally moving. Kemmerich’s mother…...

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