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The Silence of the Heart

Essay by   •  July 7, 2018  •  Creative Writing  •  707 Words (3 Pages)  •  196 Views

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The Silence of the Heart

Paul Baumer, you have left us in solitude. Please do not feel afflicted, for you gave us all the love you had. Paul’s most vivid characteristics was his gregarious, compassionate, and convivial personality. He gave up his youth, his innocence, his friends, and family to serve his country. His constant battle with the internal conflict of supporting his country while continuing his pacifistic state of mind, caused Paul to lose the purity he once had as a child. It was not Paul’s courageousness, auspicious spirit, or even his love for potato pancakes that made him who he was; it was his powerful words.

I met Paul in middle school when I sat down at the lunch table opposite of him and tried to make conversation. I greeted him and he continued to write in his notebook; Paul loved literature. He did not write because he wanted to say something, Paul wrote because he always had something to say. Paul once told me, “the breath of desire that then arose from the colored back of the books, shall fill me again, melt the heavy, dead lump of lead that lies somewhere in me and make me waken again the impatient of the future, the quick joy in the world of thought, it shall bring back again the lost eagerness of my youth. I sit and wait.” (Remarque 127-8). The words bled from Paul’s porous skin and dripped onto his paper as he wrote his powerful thoughts. After experiencing the tragic death of his friend, Katczinsky, Paul attempted to write his emotions. When I asked why the page was empty, Paul told me that it was exactly how he felt.

I envied the way Paul brought comfort to those in need of support. He always had a positive perspective on life and the war. When a flurry of bombs exploded around us, we took cover in a nearby graveyard and we hid under the coffins for protection. Paul warned the new recruit to put on his gas masks. As the new recruit struggled to put on the mask, Paul quickly turned to help him. Paul always distinguished the unmistakable terror of the petrified recruits and ensured he will look after them. Paul’s remarkable outlook on the enemies brought to my attention that they are also humans. We succumbed to our internal animal instincts to kill, but most of us, including myself, forgot that this war was not even engendered by our actions. The older generation caused the suffering of thousands. Paul reminded me that it does not matter what side a soldier fights on, or whether we win or lose; what is important is that behind the rusty old guns and cracked muddy helmets, we are equals.

It is tragic that Paul was a witness to not only the death of soldiers on the battlefield but also the people whom he loved. As everyone he loves starts to die, a bit of him additionally dies. In his moment of depression, Paul told me, “We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.



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