All Quiet On The Wesstern Front

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Decline of Morality The novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque shows that war destroys more than just the physical level; the decline of morality has taken place through various circumstances in the novel such as: then incident where Paul Baumer is forced to kill a soldier in a shell hole, when Paul lies to his mother and the mother of his dead friend Kemmerich and when Paul and Kat must beat a recruit unconscious to stop him from leaving the trench; these incidents can be compared to events in the 1990’s such as: rise in the abortion rate, Columbine High School shootings, and the incident between President Clinton and Monica Lewinski. In Chapter 7 Paul is granted a leave from his duties for about a month and in this time he plans on going home and visiting his family. When he arrives his mother asks him questions about how he is and about the war. More specifically she asks, “Was it very bad out there, Paul?” He thinks to himself how that is a bad question and that nobody realizes how bad the soldiers actually have so he is forced to lie. He says “No, Mother, not so very. There are always a lot of us together so it isn’t so bad.” Here the author proves that the war forces some to lie to their parents whom they have always been honest with and this demonstrates the decline of family life that the war causes. Later in the chapter he goes to visit the mother of his dead friend, Kemmerich. While there he tells her that he died instantly and she doesn’t believe him, “You lie. I know better. I have felt his anguish-tell the truth, I want to know it, I must know it.”(159) He again lies to her, “No, I was beside him. He died at once” (159). But yet she tells him, “I know you want to comfort me, but don’t you see, you torment me far more than if you told me the truth? I cannot bear the uncertainty” (159). He sticks to his story telling her, “He died immediately. He felt absolutely nothing at all. His face was quite calm” (160). Again this incident shows that war has a major affect on family life, if he is able to lie to his mother about the war easily, that makes it easier for him to lie to Mrs. Kemmerich about her son. These incidents can be most closely related to the confrontation involving the President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski. In this case President Clinton is preaching about how family life is so important and how parents need to get involved and how a healthy family can lead to productive lives. By saying things of this nature, President Clinton is a hypocrite. Some of the things he does are almost the exact opposite of what he is preaching. When he had an affair with Monica Lewinski he basically destroyed his family because he cheated on his wife Hillary. This shows how the President himself can have an affect on the decline of family life through his own family. In Chapter 9 Paul is caught in a shell hole during a bombardment, while there a Frenchman jumps into it, while attacking the German lines, and he is forced to kill him. This does not settle easily with Paul mainly because he is horrified at his action. He says, "This is the first time I have killed with my hands, whom I can see close at hand, whose death is my doing" (193). This states that his part in the war has changed greatly because now he can actually see the face of his enemy. While he is still upset Paul searches the dead man for information so that he can find out the deceased’s name and family situation. He finds out that the man’s name was George Duval, he had a family, and is actually very much like Paul himself, then Paul begins to make promises to the Duval’s body. He indicates that he will write to his family and goes as far as to promise him that he, Paul, will take Duval’s place on earth: "I have killed the printer, Gerard Duval. I must be a printer" (197). But most importantly, Paul renounces his status as a soldier by apologizing to the corpse for killing him. "Comrade, I did not want to kill you ... You were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction I stabbed ... Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony—Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy? If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother just like Kat ..." (195). As time passes, and he spends more time with the corpse of Duval in the shell hole, Paul realizes that he will not fulfill the various promises he has made. He cannot write to Duval’s family; it would be in appropriate to do so. Furthermore, he renounces his brotherhood sentiments: "Today you, tomorrow me" (197). Soon, he admits, "I think no more of the dead man, he is of no consequence to me now" (198). And later, to hedge his bets in case there happens to be justice in the universe, Baumer states, "Now merely to avert any ill-luck, I babble mechanically: ‘I will fulfill everything, fulfill everything I have promised you—‘ but already I know that I shall not do so" (198). He realizes he only cared because he spent so much time with the corpse; “It was only because I had to lie there with him so long, after all, war is war.” This incident in the novel relates to the rise in the abortion rate within the past few years. When two people decide that they want to have sex they both jump right into it not thinking what could happen, , like Paul and Duval. Then after they realize what has happened and the girl becomes pregnant most of the time the guy will leave the girl on her own or convince her to have an abortion. Then she realizes the only way to correct the situation is to take an innocent persons life, or in this case an unborn baby. This is the same thing that Paul did, they both jumped into the shell hole and they saw each other and Paul knew that he had to kill him cause if he didn’t his life would be completely different. So he realizes this and he kills Duval believing that he is or he did the right thing. Awhile into chapter 6, they are in the trenches and one of the new recruits says that he his going out for a minute and Paul tries to stop him and the recruit screams, “Leave me alone, let me go out, I will go out!” (99) While he is yelling this Kat comes over to help Paul in calming the re

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