All Quiet on the Western Front

by: Erich Maria Remarque

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.