All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im
Westen Nichts Neues)
Erich Maria Remarque
Type of work
War novel, historical fiction, novel of social protest
Time and place written
Late 1920s, Berlin
Date of first publication
A. G. Ullstein in Germany; Little, Brown in the United
Point of view
Paul, the narrator, speaks primarily in the first person,
often in the plural as he describes the collective experience of
the soldiers immediately around him. He switches to the first person
singular as he ruminates on his own thoughts and feelings about
the war. The novel switches to the third person and an unnamed narrator for
the two paragraphs following Paul’s death.
Paul is Remarque’s mouthpiece in the novel, and Paul’s
views can be considered those of Remarque.
Present; occasionally past during flashbacks. The unnamed narrator
at the end of the novel uses the past tense.
Late in World War I: 1917–1918
The German/French front
Paul and his friends have unwittingly entered a hellish
war in which hope for survival is sullied by the knowledge that
they have already been mentally scarred beyond recovery.
The wiring fatigue and the subsequent shelling in Chapter
Four bring the men and the reader to the front for the first time
in the story.
Paul’s killing of Gérard Duval in Chapter Nine is his
first encounter with hand-to-hand combat and, in a sense, with the reality
Paul’s remorse at killing Duval solidifies the novel’s
total rejection of the war and nationalist politics.
The horror of war; the effect of war on
the soldier; nationalism and political power
The pressure of patriotic idealism; carnage and gore; animal instinct
Kemmerich’s boots, which symbolize the cheapness of
human life in the war
There is little foreshadowing in the novel; the relentless
carnage of the first ten chapters may foreshadow the death of Paul’s group
in Chapters 11 and 12.