All Quiet on the Western Front Book Report

Topics: World War I, Erich Maria Remarque, Soldier Pages: 3 (1187 words) Published: October 4, 2013
Erich Maria Remarque was conscripted into the German Army when he was 18. In mid-June of 1917 he was transferred to the Western Front, 2nd Company, Reserves, Field Depot of the 2nd Guards Reserve Division. In late July of the same year, Remarque was wounded by shrapnel in the left leg, right arm, and neck. He then spent the remainder of the war in an Army hospital in Germany. It is important to note these experiences, because as an author, this time in combat gave Remarque an unprecedented level of insight into the life of a soldier in the Great War. The first-hand account from the lowest levels of the German army, literally from the trenches, gives the reader a haunting glimpse of the horrors of trench warfare. The book “All Quiet on the Western Front” was written in only months in 1927, almost as if the story had been in the author’s mind for a decade just waiting to be put on paper. It is, at the most basic level, an anti-war novel. The story is not written as an indictment of Germany’s enemies in the war, but an indictment of war itself. “It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by war.” The overriding theme of the novel is the horrors of war, and the effects war can have on the soldiers at the front. Prior to “All Quiet on the Western Front”, war novels romanticized the glory that a soldier can gain in times of war. However, Remarque set out to describe the war as he himself experienced it, and made no effort to romanticize the feelings of the men at the front. The story is told in first hand narration by the ‘hero’ of the novel, Paul. It begins when Paul and his friends have been relieved from the front, but the reader is already confronted with death as Paul and his friends visit the hospital to find Kemmerich dying from complications arising after a wound. Remarque uses Kemmerich’s death in a variety of ways. The reader discovers that even though technology in...
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