Sunday, August 4, 2019
All Quiet on the Western Front: Taking Leaves :: World Literature
Paul Bäumer's leave from the war is an opportunity for him to see life removed from the harshness of war. As he makes the journey home, the closer he gets the more uncomfortable he feels. He describes the final part of his journey, "then at last the landscape becomes disturbing, mysterious, and familiar." (154) Rather than being filled with comfort at the familiarity of his homeland, he is uneasy. War has changed him to the extent in which he can no longer call the place where he grew up home. Bäumer visits with his mother and recognizes that ideally this is exactly what he wanted. "Everything I could have wished for has happened. I have come out of it safely and sit here beside her." (159) But ultimately he will decide that he should have never gone on leave because it is just too hard to be around his family and see how different he has become. Bäumer finds that it is easier to remain out on the war front than return to his family. Before Bäumer gets leave to return to his family, he often discusses how the war has changed him and his comrades. However, he does not understand to the great extent in which he has changed until he returns to his old life. Seeing his family, his old home, his bedroom, his piano, and dressing in his old clothes is a direct confrontation with the distance the war has created between his old self and his new self. "A sense of strangeness will not leave me; I cannot feel at home amongst these things... I am not myself there. There is a distance, a veil between us." (160) It is heartbreaking for Bäumer to see his family because he has learned to disconnect his emotions in the war. Once soldiers train themselves to be so disconnected, it is different to reverse the effect. The emotional disconnection has destroyed Bäumer's sense of humanity and makes it difficult for him to be around not just his family, but all people who are not soldiers like him. He enjoys the scenery of his homeland but does not like being around all of the people. "It is pleasant to sit quietly somewhere... This is good, I like it. But I cannot get on with the people.