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Themes

Patriotism is the love of one's country over all things. None of the young soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front are painted as patriots. Not ever. Instead they are instruments of elected or appointed politicians or teachers who use their own stilted sense of patriotism to encourage young men to then give their lives to defend the country. In this setting, acts of patriotic heroism are thus made pathetic, because they are made for no positive outcome. The young soldiers fight to protect their friends more than to protect their fatherland.

Questions About Patriotism

  1. Who are leaders in this novel?
  2. Why is Germany fighting this war, and do Paul and his friends know these reasons?
  3. What does it mean to be "patriotic" in this novel? Is Paul, or any of his friends, a patriot?
  4. Do you think the Germans' enemy – the French, Russians, British, and Americans – are more or less patriotic than the Germans?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Paul is not patriotic.

Those that are farther away from the war have a greater understanding of what it means to be patriotic. Patriotism seems tied to ideals rather than to reality.

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