Personal Response to All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front was a book I actually enjoyed reading; I was rather surprised to see that I enjoyed the book as it isn’t the type of book I would usually read. I think I enjoyed it so much because of the way the author wrote the characters and just the way he wrote it in general. The way he wrote some of the paragraphs that when looked upon in closer inspection had a hidden meaning on just showed something else and lastly how the author took his own experience and wrote it into fiction. It made the book have so much more depth, turning the way people often de-humanizing people during war and showing everyone that they are just like us, just normal people who were told of the “glories” of war, wanting to be seen as a hero, and not wanting to disappoint their family and country.

“An hour passes. I sit there tensely and watch his every movement in case he may perhaps say something. What if he were to open his mouth and cry out! But he only weeps, his head turned aside. He does not speak of his mother or his brothers and sisters. He says nothing; all that lies behind him; he is entirely alone now with his little life of nineteen years, and cries because it leaves him. This is the most disturbing and hardest parting that I have ever seen, although it was pretty bad with Tiedjen, who called for his mother – a big bear of a fellow who, with wild eyes full of terror, held off the doctor with a dagger until he collapsed.” (page 31, third indentation)

The paragraph/ excerpt from the book above shows how the writer put thought, and likely their own experiences into it. It is quite sad, when reading of the losses that happen, and how each soldier who dies may die differently, either crying until death greets them or trying to fend death off as best they can until it consumes them. The writer had written it in such a way that if I had been alone I would have weeped as well, as death is such a thing that when written well, in a sad, yet well constructed paragraph, can really make you think about how awful it must have been. As it was only the start of the book, I’m sure only a few would find this sad, but as we read the book, and got to understand more about each chareter, got to see into their lives and perspectives, when I look back at this it saddens me greatly.

“There I drop down on my knees, but have still enough strength to fall on the side where Kat’s sound leg is. After a few minutes I straighten myself up again. My legs and my hands tremble. I have trouble in finding my water bottle, to take a pull. My lips tremble as I try to think. but I smile – Kat is saved. After a while I try to sort out the confusion of voices that falls on my ears. “You might have spared yourself that,” says an orderly. I look at him without comprehending. He points to Kat. “He is stone dead.” I do not understand him. “He has been hit in the shin,” I say. The orderly stands still. “That as well.” I turn round. My eyes are still dulled, sweat breaks out on me again, it runs over my eyelids. I wipe it away and peer at Kat. He lies still. “Fainted,” I say quickly. The orderly whistles softly. “I know better than that. He is dead. I’ll lay any money on that.” I shake my head:” (last indentation on page 289, over to page 290)

This part is from the last couple of pages of the book. By now we understand the  characters a lot more, we understand all the losses Paul has gone through, and know how Kat is a very very dear friend, possibly to be called a father figure to him. Now as we read, Kat has been dying, shot in the shine as shown above. Paul runs him back to the place for help, only to be told Kat is dead, but Paul doesn’t want to believe it. As the last little part of the written part above shows, Paul seems desperate, not wanting to believe his last friend has left the world. The way Erich, the author, wrote that was in a very powerful way, or at least I would say so. It made the readers feel Pauls pain, you could tell how hard it was on Paul, and when he finally realized, or I suppose accepted it, it seemed almost as though the last breath of hope had been knocked from his soul.

“He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.”  (the page after the last chapter ends, no number)

I have chosen this as my last excerpt from the book because it sums up what I’m trying to show, or explain as well as brings the book to an end in an almost peaceful way. By explaining that Paul had a expression of relief on his face, and by giving us one final death that this time was quick and calm, showed how awful war was. what I mean by this is it was telling us he looked happy now he didn’t have to deal with it anymore, that death was better then going on in the awful times.

In conclusion, the author Erich Maria Remarque wrote the novel in a way that was skilled and well described, the perfect mix of fiction and real life, showing how awful war was, while keeping it in a form that many could read and sympathize to.

Eva Salvador-Brown, personal response to the novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

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