All Quiet On The Western Front

Word Count: 642

The story centers around a young soldier named Paul in some unnamed regiment in the German army. They fight the Allied forces of the United States of America and Europe, plus their friends. The story is about how Paul and the other soldiers with him, who are also his closest friends, deal with the many aspects of the war. They do this in the only way that they know how, and they are not always successful. Remarque deals with the characters\' fears and thoughts by mixing them together into the story. You form a kind of bond with the various characters throughout the book. Although the author does not offer great detail on any one character, you still find yourself caring and hoping for each of them as they fight, love, hate, and in many cases, die. This is mainly through each of the character\'s personalities, which are so well-developed that you find yourself wondering if these were real people at some time or another and you might travel to Germany to meet them. The plot is not linear, and in most cases I would say that this is a negative thing. However, in the book the author actually uses it to enhance the storyline by not dwelling on any one scene for too long. Many chapters end and you find yourself wondering if there was supposed to be more. By the end, you realize that it actually enhances the plot greatly. One moment the people might be eating and bathing in the barracks, and the page after they are fighting on the front lines. It skips around a lot, but I became used to it. I may even grow to miss it in the future. This story\'s real strength lies somewhere else, though. This is in the portrayal of the characters\' thoughts and feelings. Each character reacts to situations so realistically that many times I found myself thinking: "That\'s what I would have done!" This blends well with Remarque\'s many ventures into human nature throughout the book. He uses his characters to go into the depths of all of our souls, and he does it with skill. Especially well done was the part where Paul gets some leave of his duties and he goes back home to his family for a few weeks. While there, he realizes that he is no longer one of these people, that he is changed forever from what he has seen and what he has done. He cannot imagine living a life without something to do and the almost constant threat of the shellings and killing. His life, and those of his friends, has been ruined forever by this war, and he does not know how to deal with what he is presented. This book does have faults, though. The violence is often and almost excessively gory, such as the scenes where a soldier gets his head shot off by a shell and he continues to run, blood spilling over everyone. I understand that Remarque wants to get across the injustices of the war, but I still found myself disgusted and repulsed - not against the author, but more with the fact that our race can even do theses things to each other, and that we are willing to throw away millions of lives away for such petty causes. However, the story is wonderful overall, and it is an excellent foray into human nature and its many facets. Remarque did a wonderful job of blending the lives of his characters with the war and his forays into our souls. I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who have never liked war novels. It may open your eyes, as well as your mind.

writen by: Derek Vo