Erich Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front describes the young German soldier Paul Baumer’s experiences in World War I, from his training to his death on the front. In my examination of the novel, the main theme is that war is horror, and a waste of life. War destroyed Paul’s childhood, his mentality, and in the end, war was what physically killed him.
First, war is horror and spiritually destructive because the war destroyed Paul’s childhood. The first reason why the war destroyed Paul’s childhood is because when he went home to visit his mother, he didn’t feel right and felt out of place in his civilian clothes- like he needed to be in his war attire. He went back to the place where he grew up, and felt out of place- like he didn’t belong there. He couldn’t relate to his childhood, or civil life.
The second reason why the war destroyed Paul’s childhood is that he could no longer relate to his family or the “small town mentality” of his hometown. When he went to visit his mother and sister, it was almost as if they weren’t his family, that rather his friends in the war were his family. The war corrupted him, and he couldn’t relate to his childhood.
The last reason why the war destroyed Paul’s childhood is that because of the war, he could never really have a real relationship with a woman. The war destroyed his first experience with a woman. On page 87, one of Paul’s friends, Albert, says that, “The war has ruined everything for us. We aren’t youth any longer.” This quote means that way destroys youth and all opportunities. There is also a subtle symbol in the book, that when the young man was hanging on Paul and sobbing, it showed that war destroys all youth and innocence. Because of the war, Paul’s childhood was corrupted, because he felt out of place at home, he couldn’t relate to his family, and he couldn’t have a real.