THECONCEPT OF CAMARADERIE IN “ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT”
InErich Maria Remarque’s book, “AllQuiet on the Western Front,’’the story of Paul Baumer is told on his experiences during the FirstWorld War. Between 1914 and 1918, the whole of Europe experiencedyears of war that seemed endless. The societies were devastated andfrustrated due to the many losses they incurred. Some of the causesof devastation included the loss of loved ones and fellow soldiers,dwindling of foodstuffs, and massacre facing men. During any warfare,camaraderie is the most vital form of friendship among war victimsand soldiers. Camaraderie refers to mutual trust and friendship amongpeople living together. The concept is depicted as the central themein the book. It is most useful during the war to enable people tofeel much closer to one another, especially during losses.Camaraderie provides support and companionship regardless of thelosses incurred during the war even when all hope seems lost in “AllQuiet on the Western Front”book.
Camaraderieis illustrated in Erich’s novel when Paul Baumer, Albert Kropp, andFredrick Muller visit the “Latrine,” which is a few woodenboxes”1.The three comrades sit together and have no secrets to keep from eachother. They have nothing to hide from each other. Paul says that"Sincethen we have learned better than to be shy about such triflingimmodesties, in time things far worse than that came easily to us"2.By his words, Paulrecognizesthe spirit of comradeship as the most positive result of the warfaredue to the comradeship that binds them together. He continues tostate that, “But by far the most important result [of going intothe trenches] was that it awakened in us a strong, practical sense ofesprit de corps, which in the field developed into the finest thingthat arose out of the war- comradeship"3.These words show how he realizes that that mutual trust andcompanionship were their biggest achievements during the warfare.
Additionally,camaraderie is exemplified when Paul gets lost in the trenches andonly survives due to comradeship. When he gets lost, he says, “NowI hear muffled voices…To judge by the love that might be Kattalking…At once a new warmth flows through me…There voices, thesequiet words, these footsteps…behind me recall me at a bond from theterrible loneliness and fear of death”4.Despite getting lost, he is heartened by the voice of his comrades.He believes and trusts their voices, which indicate their presence.The voices give him the strength to overcome fear, and he experiencesmotherliness in them which in turn comforts him.
Moreover,Paul and Katt are both soldiers bonded by the spirit of camaraderie.Kat looks for Paul when he gets lost in the trench5.The two manage to catch a goose and cook it. In Paul words he says,“We sit opposite one another, Kat and I, two soldiers in shabbycoats, cooking a goose in the middle of the night…..We don`t talkmuch, but I believe we have a complete communion with one anotherthan even lovers have”6.Paul words demonstrate their mutual trust on one another. The warbrings a drastic change and builds their unity.
Furthermore,camaraderie is illustrated at the end of the book when Kat isinjured. Given that they are the only soldiers left, Paul carries Katwhen he gets injured. Sadly, Kat dies. At the hospital, Paul is askedwhether he is related to Kat. It shows that they had become closer toone another through the spirit of companionship. Camaraderie enablesthe two become closer than even lovers. However, at the end of thebook, the spirit of camaraderie loses meaning to Paul Baumer when heis left alone. This is illustrated when he responds to a questionposed to him at the hospital on whether he is related to Kat. Paulthinks and says, “No, we are not related”7.This depicts that he has lost the sense in camaraderie.
Whereascamaraderie is illustrated by the companionship that Paul has withhis fellow soldiers, Paul has an enemy in the war front. PaulBaumer’s thoughts are that the enemy is human. This happens when hebecomes stuck in a hole, and the enemy falls on him8.He responds with a knife just like any soldier would do but stillponders about his actions. Paul is trapped in the hole butsympathizes with the enemy. He even has the energy to soothe theenemy of the pain he experiences. Paul states that “I am trying tohelp, comrade, comrade, comrade”9.He leaves the hole saying, “I promise you comrade…It shall neverhappen again”10.This reveals how war has changed them to cope with the devastatingeffects they face.
Conclusively,the concept of camaraderie is exemplified throughout the novelbetween Paul Baumer and his fellow soldiers. It is among the aspectsthey consider an achievement. Paul also survives due to camaraderiewhen he gets lost in the trenches. Camaraderie eventually helps themdeal with the devastating effects of the war. However, he loses thesense of camaraderie when he is left alone at the end of the novel.
Remarque,Erich Maria. AllQuiet on the Western Front.New York: Ballantine Books, 1984.
1 Enrich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (New York: Ballantine Books, 1984), 7
2 Ibid, 8
3 Remarque, All Quiet, 27
4 Enrich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (New York: Ballantine Books, 1984), 186
5 Ibid, 94
6 Ibid, Remarque, 87
7 Remarque, All Quiet, 295
8 Enrich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (New York: Ballantine Books, 1984), 295
10 Ibid, Remarque, 226