An Odd Appreciation of Death

In both All Quiet on the Western Front and Not So Quiet, we see such an odd appreciation for the escape from war death brings. In All Quiet, Paul and Kat see the dying recruit and consider shooting him to putting him out of his misery. In Not So Quiet, Helen sees in chapter two that one of the men she was transporting in her ambulance has died and says “He died as the stretcher-bearers lifted him out. I was glad…Out of hell at last” (Smith 40).

This disturbing appreciation of death is really jarring to me. Did anyone else have any similar reactions?

196 thoughts on “An Odd Appreciation of Death

  1. I think the reason why there is this distrubing appreciation for death is because of the struggles to soldiers dealt with during the war that would basically corrupt them and make it impossible to assimilate back into the normal world. Kind of like we talked about in class last Tuesday (Sept 11th), the stuff these men have been through and seen and experienced has completely messed them up, so it is almost a blessing for them to pass away instead of returning home and dealing with that war of trying to return to a normal life. I think along with this there is also the factor of desensitization that we have talked about a lot in class.
    But yes, it is just as disturbing for me! I am honestly scared of death and it creeps me out how okay with death everyone seems to be in these books, but I guess that was just the way of life back then.

  2. I can see why people would have this disturbing appreciation for death because as you stated it does allow the person to escape from their misery. However, for someone who believes in religion, I do not have an appreciation for their deaths. For those who believe in religion they believe that there can also be consequences after death like Purgatory and worst of all Hell. However, there is always the hope of going to Heaven. Yet, despite the possible consequences that could bring even more tragedy than the war itself, it bothered me that these people died in the state they were in. They lost all hope and happiness. I wanted to see the resilient side of them in which they eventually get better and find people who will support them and love them so that they can find some bit of happiness that the war took away from them. I have always believed in the idea of hope and things getting better so when I saw how lifeless these characters became it broke my heart.

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