Essays on All Quiet on the Western Front

Essays on All Quiet on the Western Front

The book All Quiet on the Western Front shows the casual and pointless brutality of the First World War from the German point of view through the eyes of the main character Paul Baumer, who is already an “experienced” veteran of the trenches by the start of the story. Bauman and the other soldiers are totally disconnected from those on the home front. He tries to retain his humanity, even throughout all of the horror of the war, and despite the fact that he is expected to die and kill for an essentially pointless cause.

Baumer and many of his friends joined the army voluntarily in a fit of patriotic fervor at the start of the conflict. This was common as many portray war to be a glorious thing and those at home like his old school teacher, Kantorek, don’t seem to realize (or don’t care) that all of these young men, so willing to fight for their country, are simply being sent off to die. “While they 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.” This touched on the recurring theme of disconnect between those on the frontline doing the actual fighting and those at home actually creating and running the war. Generals and ministers make war plans with no regard to the lives of their soldiers, fighting even when there’s no chance of victory towards the end, while those at home are still under the patriotic illusion that the war is this big, meaningful struggle for Germany. Thinking back on his old teacher, Baumer muses that there were thousands of “Kantoreks, all of whom were convinced that they were acting for the best- in a way that cost them nothing.” The people away from the war are disconnected from the horrors of war and are eager to entice others to go out and fight. The petty and insignificant people are the ones who are powerful in war.

The popular vision of trench life was one of constant fighting and dehumanizing warfare. Despite the horror, soldiers struggle to retain some semblance of their humanity. Baumer forms friendships with his old classmates and fellow soldiers and the constant threat of death along with the endless sound of artillery fire becomes a part of everyday life. Often the soldiers will cook around campfires, make dark jokes about the state of war, and simply talk about life and their plans for the future. Paul and the other soldiers speak about the simple things they miss like harvesting, smoking a cigarette, and just having a comfortable bed to come home to. “Yes, the club chairs with red plush. In the evening, we used to sit in them like lords, and intended later on to let them out by the hour. One cigarette per hour. It might have turned into a regular business, a real good living”. Paul thoughts often drift back home. Details of home, and thinking of what it would be like if he could back after such horrendous experiences. “I breathe deeply and say over to myself: ‘You are at home; you are at home.’ But a sense of strangeness will not leave me, I can find nothing of myself in these things. There is my mother, there is my sister, there is my case of butterflies, and there is the mahogany piano – but I am not myself there. There is a distance, a veil between us.”

Trench life overall is terrible. The sound of artillery is a constant background noise, much of their food consists of moldy bread, and diseases spread like wildfire. Lice is so much of a problem that men rarely bother with the uncomfortable process of delousing since the lice so quickly return. Sleeping was hard battle to conquer as well. “Katczinsky is right when he says it would not be such a bad war if only one could get a little more sleep. In the line we have next to none, and fourteen days is a long time at one stretch”. Rats are a problem as well, crawling over the soldiers at night and chewing on the bodies of the deceased in the trenches.

Even without constant fighting, the book does a good job at painting war as an assault on the senses, especially the artillery fire in the background. When Baumer is on leave, the screeching of trolley wheels often startles him by bringing back the memories of the artillery fire in the trenches. It’s as though his mind, so adapted to war is no longer used to the quietness of his hometown and even away from the frontline, he cannot escape the constant noise of war.

Throughout the novel, Bauman clings to his sanity in the horrendous conditions of the war with little to no power, while all of the ignorant fools away from the war are in control.  

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All Quiet on the Western Front 15

All Quiet on the Western Front “The first bombs, the first explosion, burst into our hearts. ” (Remarque 88) This is what the soldiers felt like in Erich Maria Remarque novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul Baumer, a young man serving in the …

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All Quiet on the Western Front – Essay 9

All Quiet on the Western Front Essay Much like the present, there is a sort of intangible space between the older and younger generations. In All Quiet on the Western Front, youths like Paul Baumer must deal with the disillusion they feel towards what they …

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All Quiet on the Western Front by E.M. Remarque

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession… It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war” states Erich Maria Remarque in the very beginning of …

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A Book Review of All Quiet on the Western Front

While All Quiet on the Western Front may help us understand the effects of the Great War on Germany, it is as an account of trench warfare and a simple story of human endurance. It is understandably one of the most famous of war novel. …

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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front In the book “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Remarque, the author uses nature, and comradeship, to describe what the characters are going through. Erich uses nature in several ways, such as describing how the soldiers are …

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All Quiet on the Western Front-Novel

“Men may have escaped the shells of battle but were often destroyed by war” How is this idea explored in the novel? “All Quiet on the Western Front” written by Erich Maria Remarque explores the idea that men have escaped the shells of battle but …

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Comparing All Quiet on the Western Front and Band of Brothers

All Quiet on the Western Front’s primary purpose is to depict the horrors and realities of war and reactions of soldiers towards it. Remarque recounts WWI from the perspective of the defeated, Germany, just after the war was finished. It makes no attempt to glamorise …

All Quiet on the Western FrontMilitary
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All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.
Originally published

January 29, 1929


Tjaden, Paul, Stanislaus Katczinsky, Mueller, Westhus, Albert


Erich Maria Remarque




Set in: Western Front and Germany , 1916–18

Adaptations: All Quiet on the Western Front (1979), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)


What are the main themes of All Quiet on the Western Front?
All Quiet is on the Western Front has three main themes: friendship, machine vs. individual, and alienation & loneliness. Individual vs. machines: Paul starts out glorifying war, but then becomes horrified at the impersonal technological forces behind modern warfare.
What is the overall message in All Quiet on the Western Front?
All Quiet upon the Western Front is centered on the brutality and horror of war.
Why was all quiet on the western front banned?
Erich Maria Remarque’s famous 1928 novel All Quiet, on the Western Front, was deemed anti-Germanic and banned in Germany when the Nazi Party rose to power. ... The Nazis believed the novel was antiwar.
Does Paul die at the end of All Quiet on the Western Front?
Paul dies in the end after fighting for years. He died on a peaceful, tranquil October day 1918. Paul dies peacefully, almost as if he was glad that the end was near.

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