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Published: 10-11-2019

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A lost Generation in All Quiet in the Western Front

In the novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque demonstrates, by means of the character of Paul Baumer, how war has obliterated nearly an complete generation of guys. Since these guys no longer retain a spot in life and are incapable of relating with former generations, they are collectively referred to in history as the “lost generation.” Remarque emphasizes Paul’s leave and the linguistic differences in between the two generations to show how Paul comes to the realization that he is part of this lost generation.

Ironically, Paul’s leave is unfortunate, yet serves an important objective in displaying how far apart Paul has grown from his family and previous youth. For the duration of his leave, Paul learns of his incapability in communicating with former generations due to his war experiences. Remarque shows that Paul no longer feels any relation with civilian life as quickly as Paul enters his hometown. For example, when Paul gets off the train, he encounters a redcross sister who calls him “comrade,” but he thinks to himself: “…I will have none of it” (156). Paul replies in this unfavorable manner because he feels angered by her attempt to associate with him by calling him a “comrade.” Paul knows that only soldiers at the front can contact each other comrades because they have experienced the brutality of war together. By calling Paul a comrade, she represents the former generation’s misuse of language since she does not know the true meaning of camaraderie in war, but tries to use it anyway.

This lack of association with civilian life Paul feels carries more than into his home. When his mother greets him, he quickly realizes he can't say anything: “We say extremely little and I am thankful that she asks nothing at all. What ought to I say?” (159). This serves as a sign displaying Paul’s loss of communication with former generations, for even when his mother then asks him about the front: “Was it really poor out there, Paul?” (161), he replies with compassion by saying: “No, Mother, not so very. There are constantly a lot of us collectively so it isn’t so bad” (161). Nevertheless, the main explanation he does this is not to shield his mother from worry, but simply because he is aware that the work in attempting to clarify to her the horrors of war would be useless. If he tried to describe what he has knowledgeable on the front to her, she could not possibly comprehend his descriptions of his discomfort and suffering. Also, putting these experiences into words offers a challenge to Paul, as the language of war would be meaningless and empty to the former generation. Nonetheless, by not telling the truth, he deepens the gap between him and his mother. Throughout the course of his leave, Paul is also reluctant to speak to his father about the war. This shows a additional movement away from the past and far more into his isolated and lost generation.

Remarque also uses even the smallest incidents on Paul’s leave to show how Paul notices the generation gap. Paul’s father asks Paul to keep his army uniform on, but Paul refuses simply because he sees no goal in carrying out so. When Paul puts on his “civilian” clothes, he notices they have grown also tight and that he can't fit appropriately into them. These clothes represent his old civilian life, and, similarly, just as he can not match into his clothing, he also cannot fit back into his former social role. Because of these various incidents, Paul realizes that items will never ever be that exact same once again with each his parents. Paul faces equivalent difficulties when he encounters other members of his hometown: “They are various males right here, men I can not properly understand…” (169). Once again, he can't relate to these people, who have been disillusioned by the war due to the fact, he suggests, they have not genuinely knowledgeable it as Paul has. He realizes that their language contains nothing but emptiness therefore, it serves no purpose to his generation because it does not accurately portray the reality of war and the inner experiences of these who have lived it.

In addition to not being capable to communicate with his family, he also loses a connection with his youth. Remarque develops the concept of how Paul has also lost his youth through the butterfly collection and old books. Paul recalls his old butterfly collection: “Above me on the wall hangs the glass case with coloured butterflies that as soon as I collected” (158). The challenging glass case keeps the butterflies, which symbolize Paul’s youth and innocence, preserved. However, he can not attain in and touch the butterflies just like his youth because of the challenging case around the butterflies. War has developed a similar tough case about Paul, which holds him back from becoming in a position to integrate back into his former self and society in basic. He also attempts to seek his youth through books: “I want that quiet rapture again. I want to feel the exact same strong, nameless urge that I utilized to really feel when I turned to my books. The breath of desire…shall fill me again…it shall bring back once more that lost eagerness of my youth” (171). The books also symbolize the older, far more peaceful time, in which the innocent Paul possessed hopes and goals to lead a happy life. Nonetheless, he realizes that his efforts to relate to his previous are abortive due to the fact of how significantly war has broken him apart from his former youth, so he turns away despondently. The books are now useless due to the fact the words in them are empty and meaningless to Paul and his generation. The pre-enlistment planet becomes even far more alien to Paul, as when he thinks to himself: “A terrible feeling of foreignness all of a sudden rises up in me. I can't discover my way back, I am shut out although I entreat earnestly and put forth all my strength” (172). Even with full effort, he cannot engender any sort of connection with his previous youth due to the recent experiences with the horrors and other realities of war.

Paul feels additional lost as the days proceed a single another for the duration of his leave. Near the finish of his leave, Remarque creates a really significant scene among Paul and his mother as Paul sadly pleads: “Ah! Mother, Mother! how can it be that I have to element from you? Who else is there that has any claim on me but you? Right here I sit and there you are lying we have so significantly to say, and we shall never say it” (184). This is the ultimate scene where Paul offers a final farewell to his mother and her generation. Paul feels as if there is so a lot he has to say to her, but he can't due to the fact she can no longer relate to his language. Paul’s generation has lost its dreams, hopes, youth, innocence, and every thing else it may possibly have possessed in its former life. It dreads the times in the course of war just as much as the thought of what to do for the duration of post-war era simply because of the generation gap. Paul realizes that life will in no way be the very same again and that he does not belong anyplace since of the brutal war.

Remarque’s use of Paul’s leave shows how Paul learns that he is element of the lost generation. By way of the interaction with his family members, Paul realizes that he no longer fits in with them and by no means will be capable to. Because of the war, Paul’s generation has lost the idea of a meaningful globe in which compassion exists for the individual. This whole generation of men is incapable of integrating back into society and no longer retains a place in collective life therefore, it is referred to in history as the lost generation.
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