In English, we recently began reading All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and it’s quite different from anything I’ve read before. It’s a historical fiction, which I tend to avoid because it involves the word “history” and that has me running for the hills. The book is focused on war and one of the most prominent ideas expressed so far is this comradeship between the soldiers. Usually, the love in a book is between two individuals who feel a connection in a romantic way, but this bond between soldiers seems so much stronger.
The main character, Paul Baumer, is the most connected to a man nicknamed Kat. Kat is older and looks after the men in Paul’s squadron. The story is told in the first person from Paul’s point of view, and the way that he views Kat is one of admiration and adoration. They share such a strong bond that has been cemented by something as brutal as the war (World War 1). People say they’d “take a bullet” for a loved one, but you never know until you’re put into the situation how you’ll react. Well, these men are literally at risk each and every day and they prove their devotion to one another constantly. They look out for one another, help those who have fallen, and will sacrifice themselves for their comrades. These relationships aren’t typical; they’re extremely rare and it warms your heart seeing people who come from all different backgrounds develop a bond in difficult situations.
The war, although destructive and disruptive to countless lives, has one positive that comes out of it: comradeship. I think that the fact that these men are in these situations allows them to form these bonds. They will never forget the men they fought alongside with and their comrades, not friends or fellow soldiers, will never be forgotten. I think that the bond shown in the book reveals a truth about life: we become the closest with those who are there with us at our most difficult times. In AQOTWF, the soldiers have gone through many traumatic events together and know more about one another than anyone else. They spend their free time on the toilet in the open air playing cards and talking. They stick together during bombardments. They discuss what they’re going to do once the war is over. When we encounter a difficult time in our lives, we usually turn to those select few for help. We want to tell them what’s wrong and share with them everything that’s going on. And because of that trust and because you’ve seen each other at your most vulnerable, you develop a close relationship. Everyone goes through tough times, and having someone there makes it easier for you and helps strengthen the bond between you and your loved ones. Although the comradeship that develops in war is quite different from the comradeship that develops elsewhere, it’s still important to have people to trust and confide in.