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All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Primitiveness Theme

Throughout the course of All Quiet on the Western Front, we watch as soldiers fight to both preserve their humanity and to suppress their human instincts. Humanness allows them to form strong bonds with one another, but it also compels them to feel like hunted prey. Their ability to survive is sustained by these bonds, and their ability to kill is fed by their primal fear of being hunted. Lots of animalistic imagery thread throughout the novel, highlighting the wilder urges that the men face.

Questions About Primitiveness

  1. When are soldiers most human in this novel?
  2. At what points do the men seem most animal-like?
  3. Does anyone lose their mind completely in this novel?
  4. How does power affect a man's humanity in this novel?

Chew on This

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

Men in authority are the least human in this novel.

The soldiers must rely on their animal instincts in order to survive the war.

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