The Devolution Of Paul Baumer Essay, Research Paper
The Devolution of Paul Baumer
Paul Baumer changed dramatically throughout the course of the book, All Quiet on the Western Front. Paul went from an able-bodied, spirited young man in the prime of his life, to an atavistic, instinctive man, doomed to be haunted by his experience of war. Paul quickly learned the irrelevance of his 10-year education from school in comparison to his short 10-week education from boot camp. Paul bore witness to the brutality of war, and has forever been changed by the sights he saw. Paul watched everyone around him suffer and die while he stood by, and chance alone kept him alive to watch the horror. Paul was changed by the war, and was one of the few who lived through the misery, only to die as soon as the fighting stopped. Paul was changed by the war, and lost his faith in mankind, which is clearly shown by Paul?s and the other soldiers? anger at the nuns praying, and waking them up in the medical ward.
When Paul first entered the war he was 19 years of age, and unfamiliar with the lifestyle of war. Paul had three other friends that were in the same position that Paul. The boys met people such as Kat, who already know of death and tragedy, and most of all, what the war had in store for the boys. The four boys soon caught on in only a few weeks time. Paul learned to listen to the whistle of the falling bombs, and decipher what kind of bombs were falling. Paul learns to live by his instincts and de-evolved into a more atavistic person with an animal nature.
For Paul, his new way of life was to kill or be killed. Paul couldn?t allow himself to see the soldiers on the other side of the trenches as human. Paul had to see them as enemies and as that alone. A man cannot kill another he deems equal. Paul was no longer a young man with dreams and aspirations. Paul was a killing machine. A soldier serves one purpose only; kill the enemy. Paul was part of the iron youth, iron to be manipulated by the army. Iron that is cold and heartless, iron that will eventually rust and crumble.
Boys from the age of 18 and so on are continually subjected to very adult settings. Many of the men have difficulty in coping with the abrupt lifestyle change. A strong soldier like Tjaden develops a bedwetting problem, an issue most everyone has grown out of by the age of 10. War breaks men down, war tears a boy open, and examines his innards without mercy. Ability to kill a man will show what someone is really made of. War destroys a man?s character and causes him to change in ways he does not desire. War takes all the sweetness out of life, and leaves a man broken, alone, and stripped of all faith in mankind, for they have been witnesses of all of the universe?s misery.