Dehumanization and Destruction of War Essay
Dehumanization and Destruction of WarWar is an event that brings about destruction, no matter which side a person is on. Also, war causes change, whether its physically or mentally. Through the use of several literary devices and a realistic writing style, Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Wiesel’s Night demonstrate that the horrible situations caused by war lead to the loss of humanity.Similes used in All Quiet on the Western Front show how the themes of dehumanization and destruction of war go together. The narrator talked about the time when he was in a shallow dug out while a bombardment of shells were being thrown overhead. One recruit develops claustrophobia, and as a result, he goes crazy and “butts his head against the wall like a goat” (111).
Remarque’s comparison of the recruits actions to that of a goat’s shows how the man has lost his mind. The development of claustrophobia due to being forced to stay inside caused him to act in this crazed manner. Butting his head against the wall like an animal shows that the man is losing his mind. Being forced to stay in a shallow place in order to survive a bombardment demonstrates how the destruction of war can cause dehumanization.Remarque’s use of realism shows how the themes of dehumanization and destruction correlate to each other. During one of the skirmishes in the front, Paul sees a an enemy soldier staring at him and says that, “the head rises up, a hand, a movement, and my hand-grenade flies through the air and into him” (113).
Remarque’s detached writing describes how Paul is indifferent to the man’s death. It is human nature to feel one’s emotions stirring when they are in the act of killing; however, Remarque made no reference to Paul’s emotions and merely stated that the grenade “flies through the air” and kills the man. Along with the fact that not much is said about this man’s death, it is implied by this style of writing that Paul killed this man for no other reason than to live. Paul’s lack of emotions during this event due to his need to survive demonstrates how the war’s destructive nature causes dehumanization.Using symbolism found in Night, Wiesel demonstrated that dehumanization is caused by the destruction of war. Three days after Wiesel was freed, he got poisoned and sent to a hospital.
Upon seeing his reflection in the mirror, he contemplated that his body resembled a corpse and that the look in his eyes would forever haunt him (115). Wiesel used symbolism to describe the state of his body. His reflection represented his dying will to live.At the age of 15, he had to endure the harsh conditions of living in a concentration camp: severe punishments, lack of food and sufficient clothing, poor sleeping conditions, and the sight of dying people. Using the corpse, he describes how weak and fragile his body looks. The look in his eyes show that he had witnessed events that have broken him. Therefore, his reflection in the mirror shows that the horrific events he has experienced led to his dehumanization.
The usage of metaphors by Wiesel demonstrates that the destruction of war causes dehumanization. In the concentration camps, the men did not receive enough food during their meals. Wiesel commented on how he is just a body, specifically, a stomach.
His hunger is what he used to measure how much time has passed (52). Wiesel used a metaphor to describe how the stomach dictated his actions; however, one trait that makes humans human is the usage of the brain to control one’s actions. Saying that his hunger is what motivates him to live shows how he is slowly losing his humanity.
Comparing himself to a stomach demonstrates that dehumanization does occur due to the destruction of war.As seen above, the war’s destructive nature led to people becoming dehumanized. Not only did people suffer body injuries, but mental injuries too. Whether someone was a soldier in the front, or a prisoner in a camp, war has the power to change people and their outlook in life.