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Themes

All Quiet on the Western Front displays all of the angst central to any story about war, but it also exposes the horrors of a new kind of war, one that allows for mass death. Machine guns had never been used before World War I. Our narrator provides a close account of the atrocities of the war. Even those who physically survive are victims. The soldiers must learn every detail of warfare in order to survive.

Questions About Warfare

  1. What is a "bombardment"? What is a front, a trench, and a billet?
  2. What is harder for a soldier to endure: hand-to-hand combat or fighting from a distance with guns? Why?
  3. Remarque seems pretty negative about WWI. Do you think he is against wars in general, or just this particular war?
  4. Do the soldiers have any idea why they are fighting against the French, Russians, British, and Americans? If so, what do they think are the reasons behind the war? Do they think these reasons justify the war?
  5. What kinds of weapons do we see used in this novel?

Chew on This

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

Nothing prepares the soldiers adequately for the Front, so they must learn by doing. Those who train them have no idea what the war is actually like.

This new kind of war allows the soldiers to ignore their enemies' humanity.

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