One of the main themes in All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is Futility of War. The novel takes place during the Great War and takes place in France. Paul Baumer is the main character in the book along with many of his friends. In the book the theme of futility of war appears in the beginning, middle and end of the novel and Baumer slowly becomes more aware of what war is really like.
In the beginning Baumer enters the war as a recruit and begins to see the reality of war. During training he has to remake the officer’s bed 14 times. The entire training course was marching, which does not help them at all fighting in the trenches. “I have remade his bed fourteen times in one morning. Each time he had some fault to find and pulled it to pieces” (26). Here Baumer describes how his commanding officer makes him do over a simple task over and over for absolutely no reason.
Throughout the middle of the book Baumer saw many actions that were pointless acts of war. His company was ordered to guard an abandoned village, which happened to have a few supplies but still a large waste of manpower. When Baumer was at the front the officers had the troops charge the enemies trenches, only to have the soldiers mowed down by machine gun fire. Baumer makes a trip home, but while he is there he feels lost and also feels like he doesn’t belong there
Towards the end of the book after more of his comrades were killed Baumer saw more of the futility of war. Even though it was clear to all the soldiers and Baumer that they were losing the war, they were still required to fight. More recruits were dumped into battles only to die due to their inexperience. “A single flyer routed two companies of them for a joke, just as they got off the train- before they ever heard of such a thing as cover”(237). This quote shows how all the new recruits were sent to their deaths, its describes how two companies of recruits were killed right when they got off the train to the front. They didn’t even get to learn how to survive because it was not taught in the training. Even though Baumer had learned to survive the war and had lasted longer than anyone else, he was still killed right before the war ended. It didn’t matter if Baumer learned all the skills to survive because he still died which is a completely random and pointless part that the author included in the book.
The main theme of the book and the point Remarque is trying to get across is the futility of war. The Great war gained little and only caused destruction across Europe. Throughout the novel Baumer experiences many pointless acts of war. His training does not prepare him for war, it only teaches him how to march in parades. Many of his comrades were killed fighting the war so the countries leaders would not have to.