All Quiet on the Western Front


Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet On The Wester Front.
Fawcett Crest; New York. 1958

Glaser, Rollin O. All Quiet On The Western Front Notes.
Cliffs Notes, Inc.; Lincoln, Nebraska. 1990

 
 
Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabrück, Westphalia, Germany on June 22, 1898. Being that his father was a book binder by trade, Erich was brought up in a fairly poor household. That did not stop him from receiving a wonderful education at his local "gymnasium" (equivalent to an elementary school), then proceeding onto the University of Münster. While attending there, he was drafted in to the German Army at a mere 18 years of age.
He was wounded five times, then released. After returning home, he had a plethora of jobs including: a school master, a tombstone salesman, and even joined a "Gypsy caravan". His searching for a profession then came to an end when he started writing articles for a Swedish car magazine. He became very well known in the areas of car racing and auto mechanics. He then used his literary skills to write novels that branched from his own personal reflections and experiences. He wrote several best-sellers including: All Quiet On The Western Front, Arch of Triumph, and The Black Obelisk.

(contd.)
Plot Summery Of: All Quiet On The Western Front
All Quiet On The Western Front is a record of seven school chums that all enlist in the German Army after being urged by their school master Kantorek. These poor youth are forced to endure the debilitating effects of World War I, and represent the generation of men that were torn from youthfulness and serenity to face a world of survival horror. They become remnants of Europe?s degenerate youth from that time period. Over the period of years, they are slowly killed off, their once bright and cheerful youthfulness has been ripped from their beings, replaced with listlessness and hardened souls.
The story is told in first person by a young man named, Paul Bäumer. He is a very kind and sensitive lad, that wants to make a difference in the world. He has a hard time seeing how fighting against fellow man will make any sort of difference in the world. "He holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other.." (Remarque, cover)

Theme: A Broken And Sorrowful Youth
"I am young, I am twenty years-old; yet I know nothing of life but of despair, death, fear, fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another...And all the men of my age, here and over there, throughout the whole world see these things; all my generation is experiencing these things with me. What would our fathers do if we suddenly stood up and came before them and proffered our account? What do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is all over? Through the years our business has been killing;--it was our first calling in life. Our knowledge of life is limited to death. What will happen afterwards? And what shall come of us?" (Remarque, 263-264)
...This statement was made by Paul Bäumer while lying in bed with his shattered leg in a Catholic Hospital. The idea of a broken and tainted childhood; the impending "loss" of an entire young generation of European males was the underlying theme throughout the book. No matter where the young lads turned to, all there was to see was a vast expanse of death and destruction.
Throughout the war, hundreds of thousands of men died needlessly for their country. No matter what nationality or race that was present at the time fighting, neither side really took the time to think about what their forced, robotic actions led too. On each side of the fence, there was a person, just like the next. An individual with fears, feelings, hopes, dreams, and ambitions just like the person that was their "enemy". And why was someone that you knew nothing about, that someone you could possible one day befriend under different circumstances, what exactly made them your sworn enemy? Even though they lived separate and different lives apart from your own, they weren?t different