All Quiet on the Western Front


Story Symbols and Themes


Themes are the central topics of the work.

Casualties of War

In All Quiet on the Western Front, the horrors of war are personalized through the speech and actions of Paul and his comrades. The novella does not glorify war or see war as a necessary patriotic act. Instead, the story highlights how war causes extreme agony for the young men involved. War wreaks havoc on families and individuals. For the soldiers of All Quiet on the Western Front, war is not sugarcoated. Instead, the story shows how these young men have had their lives taken away. The young men of the Second Company have known nothing outside of the war, and most of them never will. The depiction of war is double-sided; there are both a physical and an emotional toll. When the boys survive a battle, they are subjected to horrific images of limbs that have been blown off and bloody wounds that can’t be unseen.


Many of the Second Company’s men are at the bottom of a powerful political structure. Therefore, they have little say as to what happens to their lives. Someone is always watching the men, and they are often belittled for not following the rules. The power structure within the Second Company is symbolic of the overall structure of government: The men are always at the mercy of someone else. Their individual lives matter little to those at the top of the power structure.


Although not many of the soldiers’ family members are depicted in the book, the soldiers constantly yearn to see their families again. However, the soldiers also maintain an emotional distance from their families. Paul finds it difficult to discuss the war with his mother, father, and sister. Part of his frustration stems from his inability to adjust to civilian life when he is on leave. Although his parents and sister seek to understand the difficulties of war, Paul cannot acquire the vocabulary necessary for them to comprehend what he has been...

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Essays About All Quiet on the Western Front