All Quiet on the Western Front: Literary Log #1

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Arthur Tsao
25 January 2011
Ritchie 1
All Quiet on the Western Front: Literary Log #1

“We learned that a bright button is weightier than four volumes of Schopenhaur. At first astonished, then embittered, and finally indifferent, we recognized that what matters is not the mind but the boot brush, not intelligence but the system, not freedom but drill” (22).

In this quote, Remarque explains the differences between valuable material and knowledge. The imagery he describes compares “educational” valued concepts and essential material needed to survive. Remarque is trying to say that when time comes, in a war, it doesn’t matter what one has learned in the past, what matters is how one reacts and how one is able to survive in the unfortunate circumstances. One of the few literary devices he includes is alliteration, like when he says “bright button” and “boot brush.” Remarque also uses allusion when he references Schopenhaur, who was a German philosopher who was known as a great and complex thinker. Remarque persuades the reader to think as if one was a soldier, to think what one would have done to keep oneself alive and healthy.

This quote connects the theme: war destroys a person’s individuality. War makes a soldier bloodthirsty at times. Soldiers may have been kind and caring toward others, but in war, the necessity of survival is greater than ones of comrades. If a soldier’s comrade has been shot and are about to die, one would take their belongings in order to better protect oneself from further injuries. In a time of war, it does not matter about a soldier’s past personality, one gunshot could end a life, so soldiers react in order to protect themselves, to look on to the future, after the war.
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