All Quiet on the Western Front- Personal Response

In the book All Quiet on the Western Front, there are many examples of powerful imagery that evoke different emotions. In chapter four during the artillery fire on the Germans, Paul had to listen and watch the German horses suffer an agonizing death. The description of the animal’s death emphasizes the horror and cost of war and revealed to me the bigger picture where more than people were affected.

“The last one props itself on its forelegs and drags itself around in a circle like a merry-go-round; squatting, it drags round in circles on its stiffened forelegs, apparently its back is broken.” (Pg. 64). This description makes me feel frustrated and shocked, because to me the horses symbolized many of the other innocent lives lost during the war.

Another example of Remarque utilizing imagery is when Paul is forced to wound a French man out in no man’s land. The stab wound the man endured from Paul did not kill him quickly. Paul had to watch him suffer until finally he passed away. I feel this quote from chapter 9 facilitates a better understanding of Paul’s mentality, a soldier’s mentality during combat.

“If only I had not lost my revolver crawling about, I would shoot him. Stab him I cannot.” (Pg. 221). This quote makes me imagine and compare the scenarios of stabbing or shooting from a soldier’s perspective. I feel the reason Paul was unable to put the dying soldier out of his misery without his gun is because it takes much more effort to stab someone. The more effort I put into something the more responsible I feel for it. This is why I understand Paul’s decision. Regardless the rational thing to do would be to end the soldiers suffering, this is an example of one of the many ethical dilemma’s soldiers have to face during the war.

Remarque uses imagery to engage the reader in the story such that they empathize with what it would be like to live in the characters place. The book ends sadly and almost feels like fiction even though it was a reality for many. I feel after reading this book I better understand what it was like to live during this tragic time.


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