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An exploration of Sacrifice & Dehumanization
“War does not determine who is right - only who is left.”-Bertrand Russell
Sacrifice, the ultimate test of a man, powers the emotional narrative of Chapter 11 in All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; This evidently shines through when Paul's company’s commander, Bertinck, shows the true meaning of a soldier's duty. What is a soldier duty without his commander when stared down through the barrel of the gun, all though “shells, gas clouds, and flotillas of tanks--shattering, corroding, death.” In abject fear, Bertincks company is occupying a shell hole when bullets start to fly. As a commander Bertinck knew what he had to do to protect his company; even if it cost his life.
When he sees that we cannot hit them because under the sharp fire we have to think too much about keeping under cover, he takes a rifle, crawls out of the hole, and lying down propped on his elbows, he takes aim. He fires--the same moment a bullet smacks into him, they have got him.
When Bertnick stepped out of that hole; he sacrificed his mind; he sacrificed his body; but most of all he traded his life for the breath of his soldiers. He never retreat[ed], nor did he scatter. In a dire moment of need; in the face of calamity all that is needed is a brave soul. Sacrifice is a painting, its strokes paint a picture of selflessness.
By: Evren Khan & Charlie Hood
Two gruesome sides of war
What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine. They are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization and disorder on the part of the inferior... jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.
You can see horror and war through your eyes or in your mind. In All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, war is portrayed in two ways: the physical and the mental. In Chapter Six Paul Baumer, the main character, escapes shell blasts and witnesses the gore of war, but in Chapter Seven he feels the repercussions of the trauma he faced. In Chapter Six, Paul and his company fight against the French in a ferocious battle of spades and hand grenades on the Western Front. No matter their side of the battle, all the soldiers are in a state of survival that doesn’t discriminate who it ravages next. It is the visceral and evolutionary part of war that leaves no man unscathed, emotionally or physically:
That fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life, seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance. [Chapter 6]
Chapter 6 is merely a gruesome smear of blood on a canvas; however, Chapter Seven is a mental trench that leaves serious emotional carnage. In Chapter Seven, Paul, Leer, and Kropp visit the house of three young French girls near where they are stationed during the dead of night. Paul tries to enjoy the company of the girls, but is still in shock from the horrors of his time at the front. The terror and sorrow that he faced didn’t slowly settle down as the gunfire did when he left the front:
But I-I am lost in remoteness, in weakness, and in a passion to which I yield myself trustingly. My desires are strangely compounded by yearning and misery. [Chapter 7]
Both chapters expose the terribleness of war, but they each present a different side. In Chapter Six, Paul is simply wandering through hell with his eyes closed, not truly feeling what is happening, however, in Chapter Seven, he feels the consequences of his time there. While his body survived through the front in Chapter Six, his mind seems still to be there during Chapter Seven. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but your body isn’t the only part of you that can die.
An exploration of a nightmare, and dream
"Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Bare feet stomp along the streets of Rio, protected by the rough calluses built up over time. A ball is passed between them, not a care in the world, nor a penny to spare. The ball has seen better days, deflated and caked with dust, a mere remnant of what it once was. Years ago, the group pooled their pocket change just to buy a decent ball. Meanwhile, a child in the Hamptons moans and bitches in a tumultuous uproar. His iPad privileges had been revoked. Shielded from the real and jarring world, the precipice of problems lie in an object. True happiness and joy isn’t procured by money, objects or wealth.
By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
I chose Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, because it reveals the truth about life. The poet wants you to know that most of the time no matter what you do, you will face adversity and hardship. It’s about making the best of it. It’s about burgeoning in an abject situation. The protagonist reveals the importance of having resilience in life. I think that this is a vital lesson for everyone because it reflects some of life’s best advice.
“A great writer does not always make for a good poet, but a good poet always makes for a good writer.”-John Fitzsimmions
Call of the Wild Literary ReflectionSometimes the greatest journeys aren’t physical at all. Call of the Wild by Jack London provided me with an experience I won’t easily forget. I was transported on a journey like no other into the treacherous, harsh and unforgiving cold found on the Yukon trail. Through this short, yet enthralling read, I truly understood the primitive beast that belies the surface of many, yearning for its first gulp of fresh air.
When I began this read, it was nothing more than a mere assignment ready to be completed and turned in; a meander task to be completed. Yet again, Another toilsome deed to add to the growing behemoth of homework. But as I began to read something felt different, no this wasn’t tedious at all. I found that the deeper to dove the less it felt like another assignment to finish. Sooner than later I found myself in a cage being handed to a strange man named Fançois, a man I would later know to be an influential presence in my life. Then in a blink of an eye I was dashing in the traces pursuing mastery and pride.
Before I knew it I was finishing the last chapter, as I read about Buck's final callings and his final transformation I couldn’t help feeling a pang of remorse. What had been a mere school assignment had burgeoned into a nightly escape through Buck’s wild journey. When I look back on my voyage and outlook I possessed before and after reading, I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I didn’t invest myself in the way I did regardless that it was an assignment. I probably wouldn't have had the valuable experience I did. So give up the entitled mindset, no good readers got anywhere by judging a book by the cover. Just Because of the assignment label attached to it doesn’t mean it’s incapable of enjoyment. I gave it a shot, so why shouldn’t you. Who knows, maybe you will even find your own savage primordial beast.
Blowing off some stream
As the old maxim goes, home is where the heart is. But it just so happens that my home is on the field. The one place that all players like me who truly love the game can go where problems melt away, relieving us of the weight that rides on our shoulders.
The importance of support and kindness
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
Closest friends are siblings we never receive. My neighbor Cole is the brother I never had.
The old adage that says your closest friends are your family could not ring truer for me. Your closest friends have been through it all with you, through good times and bad. Other than family they're the only constant. Good friends ask to come over, great friends just ring the doorbell.
Through the scope
Martin Clemont sat atop a German rooftop waiting for the perfect shot. He was more nervous than usual, which was terribly strange for such a man. Martin was the most deadly sniper known to mankind, and the French were lucky enough to draft him at the early age of 12. By 18 Martin could hit 24 targets in less than 10 seconds from 900 yards away. In this particular moment Martin knew that he couldn’t miss the shot or he would die. He didn’t have much time to think about this because Annike Jäger stepped on the stage and took his place on the podium. Through the scope, Martin could see Annike’s notorious cleft lip that always seemed to give him a sly smirk. Martin was about to pull the trigger when Annike started his speech.
The Power of Family
Families don’t break, they change. To say my family changed would be an understatement, but me and my sister had to learn to change with it. Together through the storm of divorce my sister and I stayed afloat, but not by pushing each other away and bottling our emotions but by standing by each other’s side. I thought to be strong for my sister I had to seem emotionless and act like nothing was wrong. That to be her rock I needed to be closed off to my emotions, when in reality I need to be the furthest from that. When dealing with divorce it’s not always the big things that matter. Little things helped my sister and I become even closer throughout my parents' separation. Whether it was saying goodnight and reminding each other how much we loved and cared about one another or watching our favorite show, our bond together grew. It didn’t matter how small these gestures were. It didn’t matter that the pain we experienced from divorce was sometimes too much to handle. It only mattered that we did it together. Being sad is awful, but being sad and lonely is just abject. Time heals, but only if you let it. Months or maybe years from now you take a step back and look from where you came and you’ll realize things are better now. I know I did.