War Destroys Essay, Research Paper
“War is hell.” It’s a simple quote, but it means so much more than it seems. Hell is the place most people spend their whole lives trying to avoid. So when the time comes to recruit people for war, why do so many people volunteer? The answer is simple; most people have a romanticized view of war. They think they’ll march a little, fire a few shots at the enemy, and come home a hero. The truth is, most soldiers don’t even come home. The war itself is the enemy as stated by Paul Baumer: “We have almost grown accustomed to it; war is the cause of death like cancer and tuberculosis, like influenza and dysentery.” A war is a great destroyer of people. It breaks down lives and destroys every aspect of a person’s past, present, and future. The book All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, illustrates this point. The past is that which has already happened. How can war in the present destroy anything in the past? It doesn’t; instead, it destroys a person’s perception of the past. The past of Paul Baumer, the main character in the book, is destroyed. He discovered this when he went home on leave. Things that once meant a lot to him now meant nothing at all. People that he once respected now seemed naive. Most of all, the war destroyed his family. His mother was crushed. She would sit and wait in hopes that her son would soon come home, and when that day occurred, her son wasn’t the same person he once was. He was withdrawn and uncomfortable in his own home: “I breathe deeply and say over to myself: — ‘You are at home, you are at home.’ But a sense of strangeness will not leave me, I cannot feel at home amongst these things. There is my mother, there is my sister, there my case of butterflies, and there the mahogany piano–but I am not myself there.” As most people can reflect upon their past with a memory, Paul chose not to. It didn’t mean anything anymore; his past was destroyed. The present is that which is happening right now. For Paul and his friends, the present was the best it got. They couldn’t see any future and they didn’t want to return to the past. This is surprising considering that their present condition was the worst. The basis of their old friendships was destroyed and new friendships were forged out of the war. However, the conditions were so awful that when a friend was dying, all they could think of was who would get that soldier’s nice leather boots. The stress of war beat up on the soldiers’ heads; they learned to store away painful memories until later, almost as if the last few years of war never existed. Meanwhile, lice fed on their scalps and dirt found a home on their bodies. The big rats were nearly inescapable: “They seem to be mighty hungry. Almost every man has had his bread gnawed. Kropp wrapped his in his waterproof sheet and put it under his head, but he cannot sleep because they run over his face to get at it.” The men celebrated every time someone found a spare loaf of bread. While fighting, the war destroyed their humanity, turning them into vicious animals, killing everyone in their line of fire. The empty stomachs, the uncomfortable beds, homesickness, and the constant fear of death left some happy to finally pass on.
The future is that which is to come. The soldiers in this book have no future. As schoolboys they dreamt of what they would be when they grew older; they dreamt of their wives, children, house, and their career. Having been killers, they didn’t know what they would do with themselves. Many other soldiers had already established themselves and would be able to return to their former lives. Worrying about the future was a waste of time because every single main character in this book was liteally destroyed by the war. They all died in battle. Their future was destroyed because they were destroyed. Paul said, “Let the months and years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more.” The past, the present, the future — war destroys them all. It alsmost seems llike too much for a person to give. There is just one question to ask all soldiers, those who died and those who didn’t: was it worth it?