All Quiet on the Western Front

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by adikko
Last updated 8 years ago

Social Studies
World War I

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All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front:Most Moving Parts

In this scene, Paul has been caught in a bombardment. Paul is stuck in No Man's Land, as he happens to lose his sense of direction when trying to find the way back to his side. Suddenly, shells begin to fall. Unable to get back to the trenches, Paul crawls into a ditch carved out by a shell and seeks protection from shrapnel and explosions. While hiding in the ditch, a French soldier stumbles into the ditch that Paul occupies. Paul impulsively stabs the soldier, and believes that he has killed the man. As Paul waits for the sky to darken, so that he may leave the ditch safetly, he is stuck in the ditch with the man he has attacked. Paul must acknowledge that the man he has stabbed is still alive when his body gurgles and moves. Paul is sudddenly overcome with strong feelings of remorse and he crawls to the side of the soldier to help him. He cannot communicate with this man, but tries to comfort him as he covers the man's wounds and gives him water to drink. Paul knows the man will die, but is sorry that he has caused the end of the soldier's life. Not only is this Paul's first hand-to-hand combat, but he identifies with his "enemy". They are both victims of the war; another man whose life has been wrongly stolen.

Remarque's, All Quiet on the Western Front, begins with a tragedy. Leading to Franz Kemmerich's death, Paul and his classmates go to visit their friend in the dressing station. Kemmerich had suffered a small wound, through war, and became a victim of gangrene or infection, like many other soldiers. Kemmerich's leg has been amputated, and his skin is sallow with strained lines. Paul and his friends know that Kemmerich will not live much longer, and Muller even ponders asking Kemmerich for his boot, as they will be of no use to him any longer. When Paul visits Kemmerich the second time, he is on the verge of death. Although, Paul tries to comfort his dying friend, his efforts go to waste as Kemmerich spends his last minutes sobbing to himself. When he dies, it is as if his life is meaningless; Paul tries to call a doctor to aid a dying Kemmerich, but the doctor refuses as Kemmerich is helpless and his bed is needed for the others who are wounded. Muller's want of the boots shows that the men were surrounded by death and had to take it lightly because they had no time to be consumed by grief; the boys were sad about Kemmerich's death, but could not dwell on it.

Katczinsky was a beloved character in All Quiet on the Western Front. Kat was in the Second Company with Paul, and was also his best friend. Kat is known for being a very helpful comrade, as he is resourceful in times of need. Kat often helped the boys find food, clothing, and blankets when there seemed to be nothing to find. In Chapter 11, Kat is wounded when returning with food that he has collected. Kat is aided by Paul, who carries him on his back, not wanting to leave Kat, alone, to find a stretcher. All the way to the nearest dressing station, Paul comforts and tries to shelter Kat from oncoming shells. They have just reached the dressing station, and Paul believes he has saved Kat's life. However, upon arrival, he realizes that Kat is dead. Paul further inspects his friend and sees that Kat has been struck in the head with a piece of shell; the wound was fatal. Paul has lost his last and dearest friend in the war. He is full of denial and feels empty. This is when Paul begins to lose faith in himself to carry on; he has nothing to look forward to anymore.

Paul is the last of his classmates to die in the war. He has recently been given fourteen days of rest after inhaling poisonous gases; and although he dreams of returning home, he feels as though he has lost all sense of purpose and plan in his life. Paul believes that an armstice will be coming soon to end the war, but finds himself without any aims or goals if he were to return home after the war. The war has stripped him and the other men of their humanity in this way. Paul dies after years of survival, but his death, although unfortunate, leaves the reader with a sense of peace. Paul died with a calm expression, as though his end was gladly welcomed. Paul had nothing else to live for, the war had left him raw, alone, and hopeless. He was ready to die.

In Chapter 7, Paul is given a leave pass. He is given seventeen days off from war, which he can use to visit his home and family. Paul also learns that he will not have to return to the front immediately after his break. Paul will not be back with his company for six weeks, and he wonders who, of his remaining friends, will still be alive when he returns. Things can change so quickly during a war. Going home is supposed to be a happy time for Paul, but the war has changed him, almost as if there is a wall between him and his past life. To make matters worse, Paul comes home to find his mother ill and his family without much food. When his mother asks him of the war, he cannot even tell her. His experiences in the war have been so imaginable and violent that he can find no words, that his mother will understand, to describe his time fighting in the war. He comes home and he cannot even connect with his own family, because the war has pulled him away from "ordinary" life. Towards the end of the chapter, Paul goes to Kemmerich's mother to tell her of her son's death. When Mrs. Kemmerich asks Paul about how her son died, Paul feels as though he must lie to the woman. Instead of telling her about her son's slow, painful death, he tells her that her son had died instantaneously and without pain. Paul's intentions were to give Mrs. Kemmerich a comforting answer, for she would never understand the circumstances under which Kemmerich died. Paul's visit home, during his leave, created agony for him; while he remembers the days before war, he knows that things can never be the same. He starts to realize that there is nothing left for him to cherish; his mother is dying, his family is starving, and he can't talk to anyone. Paul even wishes that he and his mother could die together, so that his life would end then, as he was already without purpose in life. Paul leaves more depressed than he showed up, because it took coming home for him to realize how much the war had actually broken him.

In Chapter 4, after Paul's company experiences a bombardment of poisonus gases. He crawls out of a hole, that he had used for refuge during the attack, to find one of their men lying on the ground. The man is still alive, and Kat and Paul try to aid the soldier. When looking to use the man's underwear as a bandage to wrap his wounds, Paul sees that this is the new recruit that he had met before. Paul had comforted this boy after he defecated his pants. Although, Kat and Paul do what they can for the boy, they know he will die. They decide that it is best to put him out of impending misery and look for a revolver to shoot him. However, their plan is obstructed as people gather round to help the wounded from the trenches. Paul and Kat leave the dying boy to his fate and go help those who still have a chance. Paul and Kat have learned to have limited emotions when it comes to death. Throughout the war, they are surrounded by death and the uncertainty of it. There was nothing that could be done for the dead, only for the living. Although sad, the men of the war could not dwell on it, for it would do them no good. Not feeling had become a second nature to soldiers at this time in the war; they seemed to be cloaked by a sort of numbness.

Death of Kemmerich

Paul and the French Soldier

Paul's Death

Death of Katczinsky

Paul Goes On Leave

Wounded Recruit

Original caption: Breaking through the Hindenburg line in the Argonne, the Yanks found this abandoned trench and dugout with a lone skeleton staring at the sky from the mud, a silent host. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

A German soldier awaits first aid for wounds received during the Battle of Menin Road Ridge. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

Original caption: Robbing the cradle...This Italian trench soon to be attacked by the Austrians, shows child patriotism. Note boy not over twelve armed to the teeth and ready for a bloody finish. The lad to the left of him is not much older. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

Original caption: Robbing the cradle...This Italian trench soon to be attacked by the Austrians, shows child patriotism. Note boy not over twelve armed to the teeth and ready for a bloody finish. The lad to the left of him is not much older. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

By: Adaeze Dikko



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