“I see their dark forms, their beards move in the wind. I know nothing of them except that they are prisoners; and that is exactly what troubles me. Their life is obscure and guiltless;–if I could know more of them, what their names are, how they live, what they are waiting for, what their burdens are, then my emotion would have an object and might become sympathy. But as it is I perceive behind them only the suffering of the creature, the awful melancholy of life and the pitilessness of men” (193).
Enemies. When you think about it your “enemies” are kind of like you, they might like different things, but they have the same intentions as you do. So why do you not like them? This is what Remarque shows in this quote. He shows that the Russians and the French are really similar, they didn’t want to be out in the front killing people they want to go home, but a single word suddenly makes them an enemy. Remarque talks about how he wants to get to know the Russians, it shows that the soldiers want to know these people. However, since they have been told that the Russians are enemies they are not allowed to. Remarque uses imagery to make the audience feel the emotions running through the soldiers as they try to understand that the Russians are really similar to them. What Remarque is trying to get at through this quote is the fact that “enemies” are really similar to you and they have the same intentions that you have although it may not seem that way.
As it is shown, War makes “enemies” out of people who are quite similar. The soldiers realize that the Russians are like them, as both of them want to go home and survive, along with the fact that they don’t want to kill the other soldiers. Remarque also shows that war creates a chasm between the soldiers and the non-soldiers because the people who make the order to kill a group of people, are not the ones who are doing the fighting, they are the government. The government does not realize that these people have the same intentions as they do along with not knowing that the “enemies” are similar, they believe that they are demons and completely different form them.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 4 January 2017
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