Theme Of Irony In All Quiet On The Western Front

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War has a dark, funny way of underlining the incongruities of warfare. Irony has a strong presence in Erich Maria Remarque's novel, All Quiet on the Western Front. Set in the German lines of the Western Front in the First World War, Paul Baumer and other young men, such as Albert and Müller, volunteer to be soldiers after their schoolteachers persuaded them. At the front, they admire Kat for his practical skills and reliable instincts. On the opposite is Himmelstoss, a largely inept leader who abuses his power. The two different leaders depict the lack of preparation in waging wars. Moreover, since the troops stepped into the war zone, many died in horrible ways. Compared to his peers, Paul died peacefully on a quiet day. Remarque uses irony …show more content…
The absurdity of war is in the title itself. It emphasizes the lies peddled to young people in order to have fodder in the trenches. Ursula Lies argues that Remarque plays with the meaning of the title: “The German has the pun and the double negative at the start – “nothing new (or no news) on the Western Front”; the English title makes it positive – stressing the quiet” (178). The quiet refers to the promises of grandeur and victory to the enlistees. Instead of quiet, in the barbed wire fencing mission, all sorts of noise and scents assaulted the troops, from guns to smoke, bombs and jeeps. At night, shells bombarded them. Slowly realizing that they are not in the Front to fight and win but to delay the Alliance’s impending victory, the soldiers understand why their lives are expendable. Around them, the noise is deafening: “The thunder of the guns swells to a single heavy roar and then breaks up again into separate explosions. The dry bursts of the machine-guns rattle… howls, pipings, and hisses” (Remarque 59). The noise contradicts the glory of war. At the same time, deaths due to the war or the negligence of army leaders and even hospitals increase the fighting’s senselessness. Modris Eksteins assets that “the total dehumanization of the conflict, as it became a gruesome war of attrition, cast a pall of irony over all ideals and all values” (347). When people become statistics of war, …show more content…
First, the war is meaningless if people die without obtaining the promised “glories.” Many of Baumer’s friends died without getting the honor they deserve. Some even died in the hospital, in the absence of compassion from doctors and nurses: “Hospital-orderlies go to and fro with bottles and pails. One of them comes up, casts a glance at Kemmerich and goes away again. You can see he is waiting, apparently he wants the bed” (Remarque 30). They have become apathetic to the suffering of the soldiers and see them as work that comes and goes. Such an unfeeling healthcare force shows why dying is better than living in a callous world. Second, the last two paragraphs of the novel are ironic: “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” (Remarque 224). The fact that the title is revealed this late says something about the price of lying that the war is good and noble. Furthermore, “He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come” (Remarque 224). The passage suggests that Baumer may have preferred death for it is better to die than continue living in a meaningless life. War has made life synonymous with death and death, a road to a new

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