All Quiet On The Western Front

.. riven away from the older men because he understands that the words of his father’s generation are meaningless in that they do not reflect the realities of the world and of the war as Baumer has come to understand them. Also during his leave, Baumer visits the mother of a fallen comrade, Kemmerich. As he did with his own mother, he lies, this time in an attempt to shield her from the details of her son’s death. Moreover, in this conversation, we see Baumer rejecting yet another one of the traditional foundations: religious obedience.

He assures Kemmerich’s mother that her son “‘died immediately. He felt absolutely nothing at all. His face was quite calm'” (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 160). Kemmerichs’ mother doesn’t believe him.

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She asks him to swear “by everything that is sacred to” him (that is, to God, as far as she is concerned) that what he says is true (Remarque, All Quiet VII. 160). He does so easily because he realizes that nothing is sacred to him. By corrupting this oath, Baumer shows both his unwillingness to communicate honestly with a member of his home town and his rejection of God in his society. Thus, another break with an look of his past life is effected through Baumer’s conscious misuse of language.

Contrasted with Baumer’s experiences during his visit home are his dealings with his fellow trench soldiers. Unlike Baumer’s feelings at home where he chooses not to speak with his father and makes an empty vow to Frau Kemmerich, Baumer is able to effect true communication, of both a verbal and spiritual kind, with his fellow trench soldiers. Indeed, within this group, words can have a meaningful, soothing effect. Not long after his return from leave, Baumer and some of his friends go out on patrol to establish the enemy’s strength. During this patrol, Baumer is pinned down in a shell hole, becomes disoriented, and suffers a panic attack.

He states: “Tormented, terrified, in my imagination, I see the grey, implacable muzzle of a rifle which moves noiselessly before me whichever way I try to turn my head” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 184-85). He is unable to regain his patience until he hears voices behind him. He recognizes the voices and realizes that he is close to his friends in his own trench. The effect of his fellow soldiers’ words on Baumer is contrary to the effect his father’s and his father’s friends’ empty words have on him.

At once a new warmth flows through me. These voices, these quiet words .. behind me recall me at a bound from the terrible loneliness and fear of death..(Remarque, All Quiet IX. 186). Here, Baumer understands the reviving effects of his comrades’ words.

Strikingly, as opposed to his town’s citizens’ empty words, the words of Baumer’s comrades actually go beyond their literal meanings. That is, since Baumer notices that the words of the traditional world have no meaning, the words of his comrades have more meaning than even they are aware of. In fact, true communication can exist in the world of the war with few or no words said at all. This circumstance is perhaps best demonstrated in the novel during a scene involving Baumer and his friend, Stanislaus Katczinsky. This scene can be compared to Baumer’s meeting with Kemmerich’s mother.

During that meeting, Kemmerichs’ mother insisted on some kind of verbal statement of Baumer’s spiritual personality. As noted above, he is quite willing to give her such an assertion because the words he uses in doing so means nothing to him. With Katczinsky, though, the situation is different because the spirituality of the event is such that words are not necessary. The scene is a simple one. After Baumer and Katczinsky have stolen a goose, in a small deserted lean-to they eat it together. “We sit opposite one another, Kat and I, two soldiers in shabby coats, cooking a goose in the middle of the night.

We don’t talk much, but I believe we have a more complete communion with one another than even lovers have .. The grease drips from our hands, in our hearts we are close to one another .. we sit with a goose between us and feel in unison, are so intimate that we do not even speak. (Remarque, All Quiet V. 87). These basic and original activities of getting and then eating food bring about a communion, a feeling “equality,” between the two men that clearly cannot be found in the environment of Baumer’s home town.

Perhaps Remarque wants to make the point that true communication can occur only in action, or in silence, or almost accidentally. At any rate, Baumer demonstrates toward the end of his life that even he is not immune from verbal dishonesty of a kind that was used on him to get him to enlist. Soon after he hears the comforting words of his comrades, Baumer is caught in another shell hole during the bombardment. Here, he is forced to kill a Frenchman who jumps into it while attacking the German lines. Baumer is horrified at his action.

He notes, “This is the first time I have killed with my hands, whom I can see close at hand, whose death is my doing” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 193). That is, the war, and his part in it, have become much more personalized because now he can actually see the face of his enemy. In his grief, Baumer takes the dead man’s pocket-book from him so that he can find out the deceased’s name and family situation. Realizing that the man he killed is no monster, that, in fact, he had a family, and is evidently very much like himself, Baumer begins to make promises to the corpse.

He indicates that he will write to his family and goes so far as to promise the corpse that he, Baumer, will take his place on earth: “‘I have killed the printer, Gerard Duval. I must be a printer'” (Remarque, All Quiet IX. 197). More importantly, Baumer renounces his status as soldier by apologizing to the corpse for killing him. Ultimately, that is all that Paul Baumer and the reader are left with: war is war.

It cannot be defined; it cannot even be discussed with any accuracy. It has no sense and, in fact, is the idealization of a lack of any kind of meaning. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque shows the disorder created by the war. This disorder affects such elemental societal institutions as the family, the schools, and the church. Moreover, the war is so chaotic that it infects the basic abilities, not the least of which is verbal, of humanity itself. By showing how the First World War harmfully affects the syntax of language, Remarque is able to demonstrate how the war hopelessly changes the order of the world itself.

All Quiet on the Western Front

I. a) Why didn’t he kill the French soldier?
Paul hesitated to kill the French soldier because the littlest ounce in his body felt remorse towards the suffering soldier. Paul did have some thoughts in killing him, but when he thought about it, he just could not bring himself to kill him. He talked to the soldier and explained how their country did not know what they were doing to each other. Paul just wanted to increase the peace and he felt killing the French soldier would not do any good, since he was dying anyway.

II. a) Why doesn’t the old folks listen to what Paul has to say about the war?
The old men don’t give Paul a chance to speak about the war, because they do not want to hear Paul’s view on the war. The old men had their own perspective on the war and they did not want to listen to what Paul had to say. They didn’t really think much of the war; they didn’t consider it as big of a deal as it really was. They really didn’t want to understand the war the way it was.

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III. b) Why did Paul swear to Mrs. Kimmerick that her son died instantly? Did she want to hear the truth?
Paul could not bear to break Mrs. Kimmerick’s heart by telling her that her son died slowly and painfully, instead of instantly. He really did not want to hurt her because he knew she didn’t really want to hear the truth.
The war made Paul miserable. Paul watches his friends die before his eyes, watches himself kill others, and sees his family and the interests that he had before the war slowly fade away because his life had become the war.
b) What traits of Paul were not changed?
Paul’s love for his country has not changed. He continued to fight in the war for his country although the war was retched and horrifying. His love for birds and drawing birds did not change, for he died in the middle of it.

V. a) What image of the war most stuck to your head?
The part when the French soldier startled Paul and Paul stabs him was unforgettable. It was a dramatic scene and it was something that really touched me. It proved that Paul wasn’t just out there to kill, because if that were it, he would have killed the soldier. When Paul decides not to kill the French soldier, it showed he had some humanity in him, and that he knows that it was both their job to kill and they were both obligated to do so. He felt some remorse and Paul had too much heart to kill the wounded soldier.

VI. The film was an anti-war work. Using specific material from the film, evaluate the statement.

This film portrayed war in the worst way. In the movie, soldiers were conditional to physical torment. Blood surged, the sound of weapons and explosives were nonstop, innocent men died everywhere and the terror of the war was agonizing. When soldiers take shelter in the graveyard, bombs explode all around them; the living hide in coffins and the dead are thrown from their graves. The destructive power is so great that even the fundamental differences between life and death become blurred. The impact of war on the spirit is subtle. They find themselves less able to return to civilian life – friends die all around them.


All Quiet On The Western Front

All quiet on the Western Front
In his novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque depicts a transition in the nature of reality from idealism to realism and naturalism. This transition takes place at different parts of his novel, and to different degrees. At the beginning of the novel, on page 12, we see through Paul Bumer’s comments regarding Kantorek that he and his friends were taught in school of the ‘glory’; of war. Bumer stated, ‘…they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing;#8230;’; Since Bumer and his friends respected and trusted Kantorek, they hardly gave the prospect of not going into war a second glance. On pages 84-85, the conversation between Bumer, Mller, and Kropp reveals that practically everything they were taught in school is of no use to them anymore. All of the knowledge they had acquired via their studies was not applicable in the trenches. Instead of having to know, for instance, ‘How many inhabitants has Melbourne?’;, they have to know how to light a cigarette in pouring rain. On page 263, Paul comments, ‘I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow.’; This sums up his entire disposition towards himself at the end of the novel. He was taken into the army, willfully, but still taken, in the prime of his youth, to a place where death and destruction were facts of life. Remarque depicts a transition in the value systems of Paul and his comrades. Kemmerich’s boots, symbolic of a horizontal value system, can be seen to have considerable influence over those in the novel. However, Bumer comments, ‘…Mller would rather go bare-foot over barbed wire than scheme how to get hold of them boots… the boots are quite inappropriate to Kemmerich’s circumstances;#8230;Mller can make good use of them.’;, the shift to a horizontal value system, based on materialism and hard-core usefulness, does not necessarily lead to a degradation of humanity. This change in value systems can be seen clearly on page 21, where Paul describes his and his friends’ enlisting to the district commandant. They had no plans for the future, having only ‘vague ideas’; regarding life in general, giving to the war ‘an ideal and almost romantic character’;. He describes a movement from what is important, before and after his experience in war. He learns that a ‘a bright button is weightier than four volumes of Schopenhauer’;; that ‘what matters is not the mind, but the boot brush, not intelligence but the system, not freedom but drill’;. This ultra-realistic attitude sets the tone for rest of the novel, but the referrals to the volumes of Schopenhauer, the mind, intelligence, and freedom reveal that Paul’s ideas are changing from idealistic to realistic. Paul’s attitude towards these aspects of life in war undergoes a conversion; first astonished; then embittered; then indifferent. On page 72, Kat asks in reference to a boy wounded such that he would not recover, and his last days would be spent in anguish, ‘Shouldn’t we just take a revolver and put an end to it?’; This shows a very high degree of realism, but although the transition of reality from idealism to realism is in full swing at this particular point in the novel, Paul and Kat cannot bring themselves to put the boy out of his misery. This shows that although the transition is occurring continuously throughout the novel, humanity and their own morals and ethics have not completely disappeared. A different aspect of the transition, from idealism to naturalism, can be seen first on pages 7-8, where Paul recounts ‘how embarrassed we were as recruits;#8230;when we had to use the general latrine’;. This reveals a movement towards naturalism, as we witness Paul and his friends complete their business out in the open in ‘square, neat boxes’;. This theme is demonstrated again on pages 265-66 when Lewandowski’s wife, Marja, comes to visit him, and they have sex, as the rest of the men play skat. This movement, as the previous, shows that the men are closer to nature, and to themselves, as a result of the war. Paul declares on page 122, ‘We could never regain the old intimacy with those senses of youth. Perhaps…we recognized no limits and saw nowhere an end.’; This idealistic impression of his youth is not only consistent with the rest of the novel, but it reveals that he himself understands what is happening to him. His reality during the war was completely opposite his reality before the war, and would have been completely different from the reality he’d have experienced after the war, had he not been killed. Everything he experienced during the war was not applicable to normal life, but neither was anything he had learned in real life applicable to war. This mutual exclusiveness threw Paul’s world upside-down, and the transition of his reality from idealism to realism and naturalism was only the final result. His shift in value systems from vertical to horizontal was yet another testament to this theory. In conclusion, it has been proven that in his novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Remarque depicts a transition in the nature of reality from idealism to realism and naturalism.

All Quiet on the Western Front

1. I like the way the writer…

Erich Remarque shows a lot of detail in his book All Quiet on the Western Front. At times you feel like you are actually on the front line with Paul, Kat, Leer, and Tjaden. The excitement makes it to where you don’t’ even want to put the book down. At some points, it is so realistically written that it made me scared of what was going to happen next to these poor men. I would have to say that this is one of the best-written books I have ever read.
2.The main thing the writer is trying to say is…

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The main thing that Erich Remarque is trying to say in this book is that Paul and the other men weren’t fighting with the ideals of patriotic spirit in mind. They were fighting for their survival. Acquiring food, shelter, clothing in addition to avoiding gunfire and bombs were foremost in their concerns. Paul and his friends entered the war under pressure from their trusted authority figures. The people, who were supposed to guide them through adulthood, sent them to their deaths with empty slogans of patriotic duty.

3.The most well developed character is…

The most well developed character in this book is Paul Baumer. Paul tells all of his thoughts about all that happens. He explains in detail what is going on with him during the war. He is very explanatory with all of his feelings. He lets you in on his inner feelings and emotions, so in the end you know him better than any of the other characters.
4.The title of this book is good because…

The title is special because the day that Paul died it was so quiet and still on the front that the army report for that day was confined to a single sentence “All Quiet on the Western Front”. For this reason is why the title explains so much. Paul Baumer is the only one left on the western front. It explains how it is quiet on the front because everyone else has been killed. I believe that this is a very well fit title for this book.
5.Some events in this book are very realistic because…

Almost all of the events in this book are unbelievably realistic. It amazes me that something this terrible actually took place. It is hard for me to actually face what actually happened during World War 1. It is almost unbearable to even picture what all went on. This is just what was written down of what happened, but things were sure to be far more terrible. Everything that is mentioned in All Quiet on the Western Front is devastating to hear about, but it is definitely a good, realistic read.
6.(Character name) reminds me of myself because…

Detering reminds me a lot of myself. I tend to ‘run’ from things that I am scared from. In the end, it gets me no where. Just as it did Detering. Now, I realize just how childish and insane it really is to just run from your problems. I have learned from Detering, as many other people learn from other’s mistakes.
7.(Character name) reminds me of (name of someone I know) because…

Joseph Behm reminds me a lot of my friend ‘Bob’. Joseph didn’t want to join in the war, but he still did because of all of the pressure. ‘Bob’ usually gives into peer pressure. He won’t want to do something, yet he still does it because everyone else is doing it and trying to get him to at least try it. Poor ‘Bob’ usually gets caught when he tries something that he shouldn’t be doing. It is much like Joseph being killed first in the war the he didn’t even want to be in in the first place. Just goes to show how strong peer pressure really is.

8.If I could talk with (character), I would say…

If I could associate with Paul Baumer, I would tell him that he is a very strong and courageous man. He didn’t want to go into the war, and he didn’t want to stay, but he did, he had to. He watched his entire group of comrades die, that in itself must be a very hard thing to do. I would definitely praise him for what he unwillingly did for his country. I would thank him for what he did for the country, my country. It is a great honor for me to live in this country, the country that he fought for so long ago.

9.(Character name) is appealing to me because…

Paul’s strength is very appealing to me. He sat and watched all of his comrades die. Yet, he still managed to stay strong. He had no hope. Yet, he kept from shooting himself, as I would have. He had no food. Yet, he still managed to go on doing what he was supposed to do, which shows a great deal of strength.

10.This book is similar (different from) to other books I have read, for example…

All Quiet on the Western Front is so much different from any book I have ever read. This book is so realistic, when they others were just make believe. It was so hard for me to even put this book down, when others I barely even picked up. This is one of the very few books that are actually educational and exciting at the same time. That is definitely a great thing for me!
My name is Jennifer Fields. I’ve been an honor roll student all my life. I live in Woodstock, Georiga and I go to Etowah High School.

All Quiet On The Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front Paul Baumer, the narrator and protagonist in All Quiet on the Western Front, is a character who develops extensively within the course of the novel. As a young man, he is persuaded to join the German Army during World War I. This three year ordeal is marked by Paul’s short, but tragic trek into adulthood as he learns to cope with the trials and tribulations of war. In the wake of a struggle which claims millions, Paul loses his precious innocence as he is further isolated from society and engulfed by bloodshed. Paul’s evolution throughout the novel is a result of his having to adapt in order to survive. Paul’s experiences in combat shatter his former misconceptions of war; consequently, he gains the ability to reflect on events with his own accord. His naive ideas are severely challenged when he first witnesses the ugly truth of war. “The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces”(13).

Paul’s first engagement in combat reveals that everything he was taught as a young recruit are lies; consequently, he can now form his own conclusions. Through the ongoing course of the war, Paul comes to grips with the reality of the situation. “They are strong and our desire is strong-but they are unattainable, and we know it”(121). Paul realizes that the soldiers former lives are all but distant memories. His maturing personality gives him the insight to see past the facade of war and expose it for what it truly is. Paul loses his innocence and childhood during the war; as a result, he becomes a man.

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When Paul and his companions encounter some French women, they exchange food for sexual intercourse. “We unwrap our parcels and hand them over to the women. Their eyes shine, it is obvious they are hungry”(148). Through this transaction, Paul uses the women as an outlet for his sexual urges. Shortly after this rendezvous, Paul receives a leave of absence; however, he finds it difficult to leave the war behind. “Speak to me – take me up – take me, Life of my Youth – you who are care-free, beautiful – receive me again – “(172).

Paul can no longer conjure up the feelings of happiness which accompanied his youth, in essence his childhood is lost. The war has stripped Paul of his innocence and taken away everything that he treasured. The war has immersed Paul completely and he can no longer survive without it as it becomes the focus of his entire life. When Paul is still on leave, he feels alienated from society. “I find I do not belong here anymore, it is a foreign world”(168). Paul’s further involvement in war separates him from the life which he cherished so greatly.

When Paul returns to the trenches from leave, he finds great tranquillity among his companions. “They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear: they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades”(212). Paul’s friends give a new meaning to his life and the role of his family shifts to that of his friends. War has claimed Paul Baumer’s soul and he can no longer function without it. Paul Baumer’s experiences in war cause him to develop and change throughout the novel, his stance on many issues change as a result.

He is torn away from a sheltered childhood and placed in a devastating war which causes him to see through the illusion of a society created by his superiors. This revelation is evidence that Paul has become a man; however, with this new maturity comes a loss of his purity of heart. Paul can no longer distinguish himself with society; instead, he is perverted by war and becomes its victim as he slowly subsides to its rule. Paul Baumer’s enduring spirit causes him to adapt in order to survive an abyss of death.


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