All Quiet on the Western Front is a very famous World War I novel told through the eyes of one who, as Americans, we relate to very little: a German Soldier. This soldier, Paul Baumer, signed up along with his classmates to fight in this Great War for their country and the excitement of war. However, the excitement and pride wore off very quickly. Early on in the story one of their classmates die because of battle wounds. Beyond vast casualties and death, the unfortunate young men also face food shortage, disease, pesky rats, poison gas, and shrapnel as they go days at a time stuck in a trench surrounded by gunfire, explosions, and a landscape that resembles the surface of a baron planet. Many of the soldiers also experience insanity as they attempt to survive their day-to-day duties. The men, of course, lose most of their fighting spirit thanks to these conditions and struggle to find justification for fighting against the allied soldiers. At one point, Paul and some of his close friends sneak off their base and spend the night with a few French girls (enemy women). Paul displays his own lack of nationalism when he pledges to send a letter of apology to the family of a French man he killed. As the purpose of the story was to make known the horrors men experience in war and the cruelty of it overall, Remarque tells us in the last paragraph of the book how Paul eventually died in battle with a calmness on his face, as if he was relieved that he had finally died.
1. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul stresses how close he is to his classmate friends that he fights with alongside in the terrible war conditions. He goes as far as to say that they are closer that lovers. Why do you think that is?
2. Remarque wrote this book to unveil the horror that is war and protest against it. Do you think war can ever be eliminated from human interaction?