All Quit on the Western, by Erich Maria Remarque, is a book that explores the true horrors of World War I thought the eyes of a German solider.
This story is shows how World War I was not the glorifying war that some people envision it to be. The author uses the character of Paul to tell a realistic story of what the average WWI solider had to endure. This book raises the issue of how destructive war can be not only to a country, but also to a generation of a nation. One of the major themes in the story is that of the lost generation.
What Remarque was trying to show, is that an entire generation was lost because of the war. Not only were millions of people killed in the fighting but also many of them were distorted mentally because of the horrible experiences that many of then had to endure. Paul talks about the faceless enemy and how the fight was not with anyone he hated. Paul was affected the greatest when he had to kill the French soldier in the ditch and hear him die a slow painful death. This one experience, of not only killing a man but also to do it close enough that he could put a face with his enemy, haunted Pauls mind.
This was most likely a shared feeling with the soldiers at this time. They had to live though watching their countrymen die by being shot or blown up and continue fighting as if nothing should affect them. To deal with death is hard enough without having it shoved in your face. The fact of the matter is that an entire nation suffers when fighting a war. The county is physically destroyed and needs to be rebuilt. This requires money that has already been spent in a war effort.
The major lost is that one generation of young adults that were forced to fight a war that they didnt understand. They were almost wiped out and those that did survive must live with the atrocities that they have seen. This is one of the main points illustrated by Remarque though the story of Paul, that this entire of generation of young men were lost to this Great War. When Paul is this the French girl in chapter seven, he talks about how for a little bit he wants to forget about the war when he says I want it all to fall from me, war and terror and grossness, in order to awaken young and happy. In this Paul tries to say that he wishes the images of the war and everything about it would just leave his mind so he can be young and enjoy his youth. This fact of growing up and not having a youthful life is also part of the lost generation theme.
This war took so much from this generation that is was considered lost. Anther image of this goes alone with the end of this story. Paul is killed at the end of the book and only two short paragraphs explain his end. He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front.
It goes on to say that he died fast and looked almost glad the end had come. Paul ends up part of the lost generation. He gives up his life in the war to join the millions before him. The reason he is almost glad to die is that all the pain and suffering is over and he is finally at piece. The main lost of World War I, as portrayed by Remarque, was that of an entire generation of young men who loss in the end regardless what side won the war.