All Quiet on the Western Front will elicit strong reactions from its readers. It is important to guide students to consider how this book challenges typical views on war, evil, enemies, patriotism, pride, fear, and heroism. While reading this novel, have students think about the difficulty of evaluating situations that are not simply black and white: It would be much easier to kill an enemy soldier if you thought he was purely evil; It’s much harder when you realize that he is not all that different from you.
Allow students to struggle with the moral and ethical questions that arise. Encourage them to think about the irony that exists in war. Talk about nation building: blowing up someone’s city and then helping rebuild it…how much sense does that make? Make connections to current conflicts here and abroad.