Essay On All Quiet On The Western Front And A Long Way Gone

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All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Remarque, and A Long Way Gone, written by Ishmael Beah, are both stories telling one of many otherwise overlooked tragedies of war. Those who are not forced to fight never see the true horror of the war. Many think of war as something heroic and honorable, and focus on the idea that it is bringing justice and fighting for one’s country. They only see the patriotism fighting. However, people lack the understanding of the horrors that war brings. In All Quiet on the Western Front, even the German head-master has no idea. He states that “You do at least get decent food out there, so I hear. You look well, Paul, and fit. Naturally it’s worse here. Naturally. The best for our soldiers every time, …show more content…
People tend to vastly underestimate the risks that come with war, usually thinking that the war will not actually make a significant difference to their lives. Others believe that the war will benefit a country. However, nobody tends to think of the risks of war until they personally are affected. Before the war reaches him, Ishmael, for instance, states “There were all kinds of stories told about the war that made it sound as if it was happening in a faraway and different land. It wasn’t until refugees started passing through our town that we began to see that it was actually taking place in our country” (Beah 5). In Paul’s case, the headmaster sees things in an even more conflicting way. While Paul was speaking to the headmaster, Paul stated “They argue about what we ought to annex. The head-master with the steel watch-chain wants to have at least the whole of Belgium, the coal areas of France, and a slice of Russia. He produces reasons why we must have them and is quite inflexible until at last the others give in to him” (Remarque 166-167). Subsequently, this statement is followed by “I reply that in our opinion a break-through may not be possible. The enemy may have too many reserves. Besides, the war may be rather different from what people think” (167). This shows, yet again, that those who do not fight are only focusing on the good of the war, and if not, then they ignore it …show more content…
While many think of their army as an unstoppable force that is hardened by experience and determination, these beliefs are a massive overestimation. About 57.5% of the 65,000,000 soldiers fighting in World War I suffered a casualty. In Germany, nearly 65% of all soldiers suffer a casualty. In Austria-Hungary, 90% of all soldiers have a casualty (WWI Casualties and Death Tables). Paul is aware of this reality all too well. While Paul is recovering in the hospital, he sees the people around him dying. After being exposed to the true terror of war, he articulates “How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is” (Remarque 263). Ishmael, like Paul, also sees this death. First, he is separated from his family during an attack. Secondly, he and his older brother, Junior, were separated when the town that they had been was attacked. Third, his family had been killed in an attack that occurred right before he was able to see them again. Finally, he also had to abandon his uncle and new family, who had adopted him, so that he could escape the violence of Freetown. He, like Paul, has been forced to witness the loss of his friends and

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