A Summer Life by Gary Soto

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One of the most important military techniques used in World War 1 was the use of trench warfare. In the movie, All Quiet on the Western Front, both the positive and the negative aspects of trench warfare are highlighted.

The movie begins with German men hiding behind the trenches as the French Army approaches. As the French march closer, the Germans are able to shoot at them, but avoid being shot themselves by ducking down in the trenches. This is particularly helpful because it saved lives while also taking down the enemy.

Another positive attribute of trench warfare is shown in the scene in the movie in which Paul Baumer kills a Frenchman and realizes they could have been brothers. During this scene, he gingerly lifts up his helmet out of the trench to check if it is safe. The helmet is instantly shot down. This was important because it let him know whether or not it was safe to get out of the trench.

A negative effect of trench warfare happened when a grenade was thrown into the trench. In a trench, there are many men, so if a grenade is thrown in, a whole regiment could be instantly wiped out.

Another negative effect happened when there was gas. After the gas has dissipated, many inexperienced soldiers believed it to be safe to go back into the trenches without their masks. However, in the trenches, the gas had collected and they would die a choking death. This is shown in the movie during the part in which the new soldier drops his gas mask into the trench and jumps in to retrieve it.

The movie All Quiet on the Western Front properly highlights both the negative and positive qualities of trench warfare along with presenting an accurate view of the propaganda at the home front while also distinguishing between the soldier’s view of the war and the people at home’s point of view of the war.
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