All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, is flooded with symbols. However, there are some symbols which come up in the novel more frequently and carry many different themes with them. These are known as central or essential symbols. One major symbol in the novel is the earth. Earth is a major symbol because not only does it have many themes but it symbolizes a great list of things through out the book. Earth has symbolized the ground, the animals, water, the plants and dirt as well. Earth has represented life since the earth has supported the soldiers with food that they needed to survive. Ironically enough the earth also represents death. Whether on the western front or in no man’s land the soldiers are always fighting on earth, earth which is littered with dead bodies. On a literal level this is an easy way for earth to represent death but, on a not-so-literal level the earth can also symbolize death since the deceased are buried underground after they die. By representing both life and death the earth easily represents perverse nature as well. Since the men are frequently compared to animals and are shown to have animalistic behaviors the earth also symbolizes the soldiers’ dehumanization in a way that they are compared to animals and by doing that they are loosing the humanity in them. By being compared to animals as a whole they loose their individuality. Clearly the earth is a central symbol because it can easily represent major themes played out in the book and does so often.