Where was the Western Front located?
For the most part, the Western Front ran some 400 miles between the Belgian coast and the Swiss border, through France, and served as a meeting point for the German and French armies between 1914 and 1918. A number of brutal battles took place in its various trenches, though the line did not change much.
What happens to Paul at the end of the novel?
By the fall of 1918, Paul is the last of his circle of friends left alive. Germany’s defeat seems imminent, and it’s likely the war will end soon. Paul inhales poison gas, and spends two weeks on leave. During this time, not even the promise of peace excites him; all he knows now is war. The end of the book cites, with little detail or fanfare, that Paul was killed on a day with so little fighting that the army report said merely, “All quiet on the Western Front.” Paul’s face appeared calm in death, as if relieved, and he died a month before the peace agreement of November 1918.
Why does Paul try to save the life of the French soldier?
Paul is motivated purely by a need to survive, so he doesn’t think twice before stabbing the French soldier while hiding out in the shell hole in No Man’s Land. When the soldier doesn’t immediately die, however, the horror of having killed a man face-to-face rather than from a distance becomes excruciatingly real. Paul feels empathy for this man, whose name is Gérard Duval. Seeing the terror in Gérard’s eyes, Paul realizes that, to the French soldier, Paul is just as much his enemy as he is Paul’s. They are one and the same; Paul can hardly bring himself to read Gérard’s name in his paybook because it humanizes this man he has just killed, and dehumanization is tantamount to the war effort. Paul bandages Gérard’s wounds and gives him water, even though he was the one who stabbed him, simply because he didn’t actually want to kill him; they are both victims of the war.
Why did Paul and his friends join the army?
Paul and his friends joined the army out of a sense of nationalism. They are volunteers who signed up because they believed it was their duty as patriots, and because young, able-bodied men faced ostracism and condemnation from society if they did not join the war effort. However, the reality of fighting for one’s country, as Remarque demonstrates throughout the novel, is very different from the propaganda surrounding the idea of it.
What is the significance of Kemmerich’s death?
Kemmerich dies early on in the novel to support the notion that there is no glory or meaning in death. Kemmerich has had his leg amputated and is slowly dying of an infection, though he is not immediately aware of either fact. That Müller is angling to take his boots before Kemmerich has even passed emphasizes the horrific nature of war; there is no room for honor, sentimentality, or grief, only survival. His slow, agonizing death, and the lack of emotion with which his friends react to it, paints a portrait of the brutality Paul and his friends must contend with each day.