All Quiet on the Western Front

  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    Story about the horrors of war for ordinary German soldiers-World War I --1914-1918

    The Western Front is between Germany and France

     

    Setting

    Late in World War I, 1917-1918

    Western Front between Germany and France

     Author

    Erich Maria Remarque 1898-1970

    Soldier in WWI-age 18-seriously injured

    Hitler

    All Quiet on the Western Front banned in Germany and book burned

    Remarque fled Germany

    His Sister killed by Nazis

     

    Plot Summary

    The book follows a group of ordinary soldiers through a year of fighting during WWI. All will be dead or seriously injured by the end of the novel. The “young” soldiers were patriotic at the beginning and thought war would be a great adventure, instead war is a horror.

     

    Characters

    Paul Baumer

    Narrator/Main Character

    Convinced to join German Army by a patriotic teacher (Kantorek)

    Emotionally destroyed by war before he dies

    Stanislaus Katczinsky 

    Oldest soldier, experienced and resourceful

    Mentor

    Dies while Paul tries to save him during battle

    Albert Kropp

    Classmate of Paul’s

    Asks Antiwar questions throughout the story

    Muller

    Classmate of Paul’s

    Constantly questions what they will do after the war

    Tjaden

    Skinny soldier-eats a lot

    Hates Corporal Himmelstoss-wants revenge

    Kantorek

    Important character to theme of nationalism and patriotism-drives men to war

    Paul’s teacher

    Convinces Paul and his friends to be a patriots and join the army

    Paul and his friends grow to hate Kantorek and his ideals

    Gets Drafted, a terrible soldier

    Corporal Himmelstoss

    Character related to the theme that war makes men power hungry and brings out worst qualities in humans

    Trains army recruits

    Mailman before the war

    Cruel to new soldiers

    Sent to the front-afraid and tries to apologize to the soldiers

    Franz Kemmerich

    Paul’s classmate

    Minor leg wound-gets gangrene-leg amputated-dies slowly

    Meaningless of death in war

    Life of a common soldier is cheap

    Joseph Behm

    Paul’s classmate-first to die

    Did not want to enlist

    Caved into peer pressure

    His death causes young soldier to question “authority”

    Detering

    Close friend of Paul’s

    A farmer with a wife and family

    Homesick

    Gerard Duval

    French soldier Paul kills in hand-to-hand combat

    A printer with a wife and family

    Most traumatic experience for Paul in the war

    Leer

    Paul’s classmate

    First to lose his virginity in the war

    Haie Westhus

    Soldier

    Former peat digger (hates his job)

    Thinks war will give him opportunities for a better career

    Kindevater

    Soldier

    A bed wetter-still a child, not a man

    Officers are cruel to him

    Lewandowski

    Patient in hospital

    Plots to have sex with his wife

    Mittelstaedt

    Paul’s classmate

    Becomes a training officer

    Torments Kantorek at the front for revenge

    Themes

    Horrors of War

    • First book to show war is NOT an adventure and all about heroes and glory, and patriots.
    • War is violent, meaningless, and causes physical and emotional damage.

    Effect of War on Soldiers**

    • Constant Physical Danger
    • Intense Fear
    • Appalling Conditions for soldiers
    • Sudden Death
    • Emotional disconnect for survival

    ** Similar to The Things They Carried (the physical and emotional burdens of war)

    Nationalism/Politics
    • Nationalism/Patriotism is a propaganda device to control the citizens of the country
    • Soldiers fight to survive. They kill so they won’t be killed.
    • They do not fight for their country.
    • Soldiers begin to believe their own leaders are the enemy not the opposing soldier.