All Quiet on the Western Front – Personal Review

I believe that in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque uses a wide variety of imagery to showcase powerful and/or important moments. In this short essay, I will explain my reasoning for this, and provide examples in the form of quotations from the novel.

In chapter 9 of All Quiet on the Western Front, the main event that happens is Paul finds a dying British soldier on the ground. He has a large chest wound and is clearly suffering. Paul makes his way over in attempt to save the man’s life. However, the man believes that Paul is going to finish him off.

“I bend forward, shake my head and whisper, ‘No, no, no,” I raise one hand. I must show him that I want to help him, I stroke his forehead. The eyes shrink back as the hand comes, then they lose their stare, the eyelids droop lower, the tension is past. I open his collar and place his head more comfortably.” P. 219

This is one of the most powerful moments of the whole book. It shows what a true, kind-hearted person Paul really is. Paul has the same attitude throughout the whole book. He mentions that the people on the other side of the war are just the same as him. School boys, average workers, husbands, fathers, etc. Paul feels sorry for each and every death, whether on his side of the battle or not, and this part really drives home that thought.

 

Another example of when imagery was utilized was in chapter 4. When Paul and Kat are in the graveyard getting bombarded by the British artillery and Sulfur Mustard (the most common and deadly gas of WW1), they are crawling around, doing their best to protect themselves, but more importantly their lives. As they are maneuvering about, Kat gets the word out to Paul about the incoming gas

“I grab for my gas-mask. Some distance from me there lies someone. I think of nothing but this: That fellow there must know: Gaaas—–Gaaas—.”

Whenever I read this part, not just the quote but the whole page, it makes me feel so lucky that I was not a part of any war. It would be truly traumatizing being put in that scenario, gas and artillery trying to kill you, as well as gunners from the frontlines. This part corroborates with the first statement about Paul, as his only thought was to let the man know about the gas. Not to get out to a safer spot, not to stay put and keep safe, but to protect his fellow soldiers. He puts others before himself.

 

All things considered; All Quiet on the Western Front is a very powerful novel. It gives readers a first-hand look at trench life, war life, all the suffering that happens, and the trauma all the living soldiers go through. It is truly unlike any war movie or other novel.

By: William

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