In “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Armature follows a group of young soldiers through the horrors of WWW. Armature presents the soldiers’ experience as an extremely traumatic experience by revealing how the war has changed and damaged the ones who survive. The fact that everyone in the group dies by the end of the novel shows the real nature of war and its effects. Through Pall’s eyes, the war is shown as a destructive force which steals people’s youth and innocence, turns them into instinct-driven animals and makes it impossible for the lost generation to reintegrate into the society.
Throughout the story, Paul repeatedly observes that being in the war has taken a great emotional toll on him and the others. The war has the power to strip young men’s youth and turn them into old souls overnight. It also has the negative effect of destroying people’s innocence and turning them into calloused and insensitive beings. Even though Paul and his friends were classmates and extremely close, when Chimer dies, they are tempted to take his boots because the reality is survival.
The fact that Mueller is “delighted at the sight of them,” (19) and talking about having the boots even before Chimer is dead shows he lack of emotions that has conquered the soldiers’ souls. Later, when Paul kills the French soldier in close combat, he feels that he has lost his soul and that he has become numb to the feelings of pain and remorse. His transformation is complete and can never recover again. Along with the idea of soul-numbing experiences comes the idea that war reduces one’s humanity and increases his annalistic tendencies.
During combat, the soldiers do not have time to think but simply react in order to survive. Paul notices that the more he spends in the war, the better he gets t reacting during a crisis. By comparison, the newcomers are unprepared for war because their animal instincts have not been polished enough by being in the war. Paul says people were all different in their own way – they used to be philosophical, self-aware, and promising young people.
However, Paul describes “we have become wild beasts,” (103) as they have become killing machines who have forgotten all their schooling and simply wired down to instinct level. They also see others as less than human. Even though they are not doctors and cannot fully establish a wounded Nan’s chance of survival, Kate and Paul think about shooting the recruit who got his hip blown-up. The feel is to “put him out of his misery’ (69) much like one would deal with a wounded horse or other animal.
Because war strips people of their humanity and changes their way of thinking, Paul realizes that he went from a promising young man to a member of the “lost generation. ” Albert expresses this very well as he says “The war has ruined us for everything. ” (81) Paul agrees that they are no longer youth and are completely wasted. While on leave, Paul comes to the sad conclusion that he ill never be able to fully reintegrate into society. He feels more like home with his peers on the battlefield, than in his hometown among his family.
Being with his family and interacting with people in the street has become an awkward. Paul wishes he had never come on leave because he realizes that he is “nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is comfortless and without end” (163). By contrast, he knows exactly who he is at the front: a soldier. The fact that he feels more like a soldier than a civilian is turner proven by his uneasy telling as he wears is civilian clothes.
Pall’s experience in the war leaves him an old, wounded soul who cannot recover and will never be able to successfully reintegrate into the society. Paul went to war as an enthusiastic, patriotic youth, but gradually loses pieces of him one by one and eventually feels that there is nothing left of him that’s worth preserving. He would not even have felt rejoice when the war is over because he has little to live for and has lost all his friends. Therefore, the story describes his death as less painful, more natural outcome than returning home.