All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen Nichts Neues)

author  Erich Maria Remarque

type of work  Novel

genres  War novel, historical fiction, novel of social protest

language  German

time and place written  Late 1920s, Berlin

date of first publication  1928

publisher  A. G. Ullstein in Germany; Little, Brown in the United States

narrator  Paul Bäumer

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.

tone  Paul is Remarque’s mouthpiece in the novel, and Paul’s views can be considered those of Remarque.

tense  Present; occasionally past during flashbacks. The unnamed narrator at the end of the novel uses the past tense.

settings (time)  Late in World War I: 19171918

settings (place)  The German/French front

protagonist  Paul

major conflict  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.

rising action  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.

climax  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 of war.

falling action  Paul’s remorse at killing Duval solidifies the novel’s total rejection of the war and nationalist politics.

themes  The horror of war; the effect of war on the soldier; nationalism and political power

motifs  The pressure of patriotic idealism; carnage and gore; animal instinct

symbols  Kemmerich’s boots, which symbolize the cheapness of human life in the war

foreshadowing  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.