Personal Response to “All Quiet on the Western Front”

All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque. It is about a young man named Paul Bäumer who was swayed along with the rest of his class by the words of his teacher Kanotorek to join the army and fight for the fatherland. His classmates were all seperated except for a few of his friends (leer, Müller, Kropp and a few others). when they arrived, they met Stanislaus Katczinsky who was nicknamed Kat. Kat was an older soldier and was very smart. I didnt dislike or like the book. it was just a book. I also didnt feel anything sadness, happiness, or anger at what was happening. I did however liked the perspectives it gave.

The book helps you understand the perspective of the soldiers who had to fight in WW1 and the conditions they lived in and the effects it had on the soldiers. it also let people from other countries realize that the germans were not the savages that propoganda had written them to be. Erich Remarque was able to grasp the emotions that Paul felt throughout the novel which helped understand even more how the soldiers felt. I live and sleep normally every day and night and could not imagine the pain Paul felt when he could not live the life he lived before the war. In chapter 7 Paul went on leave and visited his hometown where is father, mother and sister live. When he converses with people, it is very hard on him because they keep on asking questions about the war. Paul went on leave to get away from the war for a bit but the people only want to know about the war from him. Paul knows that the people do not mean to be rude or mean but he hates their assumptions about the war. Paul’s dying mother is the one he connects to the most. “My mother is very pale” (p.158) The night before he has to return to the war they stay up together and exchange words of concern and love to eachother. But Paul is glad to be going back to see his comrades.

In chapter 9 Paul and his friends start to question whether the Germans are in the right or wrong. They also make fun of the Kaiser. this shows that they are slowly starting to realize that war is not worth it. Paul goes on patrol and ends up stabbing someone and killing them. He watched the man die, painfully. Paul feels remorse and seeks forgoiveness from the man’s corpse. This is the first person Paul killed a man so close and so personally. “This is the first time i have killed with my hands, whom i can see so close at hand, whose death is my doing.” (p. 221)

My family has had a lot of military connections. My father is in the reserves, my great grandpa was in the navy during WW2, and my great grandpa on my mom’s side died in WW2. I personally do not have any experiences with the military or any combat of any kind, I have not gotten into any  physical altercations or fights ever and dont plan on it. But if there is a time in my life where another war starts I would definetly enlist. to serve my country or die for it would be fun.

The English version of All Quiet on the Western Front uses words of old Enlgish that I usually had to search up. The old fashioned english matched up with the story really well since it was during WW1. Words such as Tommy (a private in the British army), napkin (diaper), and lorries (trucks) were all old fashioned english words that I did not know.

As you get closer to the end of the book all of Paul’s friends start to die off one by one. It was the death of Kat that really dealt the biggest blow to Paul. Once Kat died Paul didnt care much for living. It wasnt until October of 1918 when Paul died. “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.” (p. 256)

 

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