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In “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Erich Maria Remarque groups experience and influence together to characterize a beneficial mentor in Paul’s eyes. Both Kat and Kantorek are guide mentors that attempt to lead the characterization of Paul in a beneficial way, but only one has a positive influence on Paul’s experience in the war because of his leadership qualities and therefore ultimately helps shape Paul’s own character development. This is important because the author helps guides readers to identify their own beneficial mentors by paralleling real-life scenarios with the war in the novel, since the experience and impact of a mentor heavily influences the decisions that the mentee ends up making. The characterization of Kat differs from that of Kantorek, since the author purposely separates the seemingly common mentor relationships that they each have with Paul. As the novel’s central figure, Paul Baumer is heavily influenced by his two mentors before and throughout the duration of the war. Kat is mature, and although his methods of teaching are tough love, they are ultimately successful in transforming the men into strong headed soldiers. As the soldiers cross the kill zone under Kat’s leadership, “We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers – we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals” (Remarque 27). As the leader of the pack, Kat identifies trouble easily, which the soldiers look at as an admirable trait. He is able to teach the boys the skills that are necessary to survive, therefore adjusting their mindsets and overall characterization. Kat makes a huge impact on Paul’s character, even after he passes away. The bond is more of a father-son mentality, which is reflected through their mentor and mentee relationship. When Kat sustained an injury, “After a few minutes, I straighten myself up again. My legs and my hands tremble. I have trouble in finding my water bottle, to take a pull. My lips tremble as I try to drink. But I smile – Kat is saved” (Remarque 85). Paul’s attachment to his mentor is the prime example of Kat’s beneficial guidance. Although the war places them in a situation in which brotherhood is the key to survival, Kat’s influence on Paul extends beyond that. This is relatable to those readers with an influential guide in their lives, usually a person that they trust and relate to. The soldiers look up to Kat, which is the prime example of his influence on the men. It is human nature to want to please and impress the people with experience in their field, with or without their approval. However, this is not the case between Kat and Paul. Paul does look up to Kat, yet he has no intention of changing himself for Kat’s benefit. Rather, the two men are on the same playing field in a sense, in which their relationship is equally beneficial to their character development. Paul was able to morph from a nervous boy into an independent man under Kat’s guidance. The audience is therefore able to notice Paul’s changing character, which ultimately conveys what having a strong guide mentor physically looks like. On the other hand, while Kantorek does offer guidance for Paul, he lacks a tight bond with him during the war because of his manipulation when Paul was still his student. He epitomizes evil, which stems from a patriotic view and support for his country, along with inexperience. When Paul was a student with Kantorek, he was bright eyed and very eager to hear what he had to say, but “While they (the pontificating teachers and politicos) continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger” (Remarque 49). Kantorek’s character portrays a teacher with great knowledge, and Paul and the other students have put their trust in their teacher and listened to his rhetoric. However, the juxtaposition is clear because of Kantorek’s ignorance of what war is actually like. He encourages the boys to voluntarily enlist without experiencing what he is putting the soldiers through. This stresses the importance of experience, and the extent to which a mentor’s influence becomes influential.  As the war continues on, “There were thousands of Kantoreks, all of whom were convinced that there was only one way of doing well, and that way theirs. And that is just why they let us down so badly” (Remarque 47). Paul imagines that many of the soldiers dying alongside him were blindsided by the propaganda from their teachers as well. The war was hyped up and the men were eager to join, but the reality differed from what their teacher tried to describe it as. This ends up confusing the mentee, as they had built up their expectations in response to their teacher, only to end up facing reality in a completely different way.                       Remarque analyzes the guide mentors in a way that separates experience and influence from how the main character decides to behave in the end of the novel. The mentor with more experience was able to leave a more meaningful impact, therefore allowing Paul to grow into his own character and eventually come out of the war as more mature. It was easy for him to be swept up in the propaganda and rhetoric from his teacher whom he placed trust on. However, the key qualification in being a beneficial mentor relates back to the amount of experience, which impacts the mentor’s influence on their mentee.                                       


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