I need your expert opinion on Remarque's style of writing and how you think it contributes to the portrayal of war as being brutal and inhumane.I need to quote a source, if you could please add...

I need your expert opinion on Remarque's style of writing and how you think it contributes to the portrayal of war as being brutal and inhumane.

I need to quote a source, if you could please add your name.  thank you

Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front

Asked on by sharne

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As his chronicle of the war continues, there is an emotionless, benumbed quality to Remarque's writing, as though he is conditioned to the horror.  For instance, in Chapter Six in a mention of the new recruits and their questions about the bayonets on the rifles, Remarque dispassionately describes how the sharpened spade is a better weapon:

The sharpened spade is a more handy and many-sided weapon; not only can it be used for jabbing a man under the chin, but it is much better for striking with because of its greater weght; and if one hits between the neck and shoulder it easily cleaves as far down as the chest.  The bayonet frequently james on the thrust and then a man has to kick hard on the other fellow's belly to pull it out again; and in the interval he may easily get one himself.  And what's more the blade often gets broken off. 

Remarque himself admits to the psychological numbing as, in Chapter Five, he describes the battlefront as a cage in which the soldiers must await fearfully whatever may occur: 

We lie under the network of arching shells andlive in a suspense of uncertainty. Over us, Chance hovers.  If a shot comes, we can duck, that is all; we neither know nor can determine where it will fall.

At times Remarque's prose evinces his disorientated state of mind as he writes impressionistic passages. For example, he writes in Chapter Six of the shelling and the hits like a big Paw clawing in the trench, and he describes the men as "wild beasts."  He remarks, "What do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down...."

His plain and direct style, much like the minimalist style of Hemingway, reduces situations to their basic essence.  "This is what it is," Remarque says dispassionately.  Yet, there is a moribund quality to his tone.  For, it is as though he tells his readers, We are desensitized like animals in a cage who can do nothing about our fate:

It is just as much a matter of chance that I am still alive as that I might have bee hit....No soldier outlives a thousand chances.  But every soldier believes in Chance and trusts his luck.

 

 

teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

(Follow the link below--there is citation information at the top of the page.)

In All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque uses simple, direct language to create Paul's voice.  In addition to the style of language, Remarque also uses much imagery to paint the picture of war.  One passage in which this may be seen is in Chapter 4 when Paul describes the horses that are used to carry ammunition onto the front.  Paul describes the magnificence of the horses, so the reader recognizes their beauty and innocence.  Then the horses get caught in battle and are hurt, frightened, and dashing about to save themselves.  In simple language, Paul says that the "guts" of one of the horses are hanging out of its belly.  Such a raw image suggests to the reader that war is brutal, inhumane, and unforgiving. 

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