full title All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen Nichts Neues)
author Erich Maria Remarque
type of work Novel
genres War novel, historical fiction, novel of social protest
time and place written Late 1920s, Berlin
date of first publication 1928
publisher A. G. Ullstein in Germany; Little, Brown in the United States
narrator Paul Bäumer
point of view Paul, the narrator, speaks primarily in the first person, often in the plural as he describes the collective experience of the soldiers immediately around him. He switches to the first person singular as he ruminates on his own thoughts and feelings about the war. The novel switches to the third person and an unnamed narrator for the two paragraphs following Paul’s death.
tone Paul is Remarque’s mouthpiece in the novel, and Paul’s views can be considered those of Remarque.
tense Present; occasionally past during flashbacks. The unnamed narrator at the end of the novel uses the past tense.
settings (time) Late in World War I: 1917–1918
settings (place) The German/French front
major conflict Paul and his friends have unwittingly entered a hellish war in which hope for survival is sullied by the knowledge that they have already been mentally scarred beyond recovery.
rising action The wiring fatigue and the subsequent shelling in Chapter Four bring the men and the reader to the front for the first time in the story.
climax Paul’s killing of Gérard Duval in Chapter Nine is his first encounter with hand-to-hand combat and, in a sense, with the reality of war.
falling action Paul’s remorse at killing Duval solidifies the novel’s total rejection of the war and nationalist politics.
themes The horror of war; the effect of war on the soldier; nationalism and political power
motifs The pressure of patriotic idealism; carnage and gore; animal instinct
symbols Kemmerich’s boots, which symbolize the cheapness of human life in the war
foreshadowing There is little foreshadowing in the novel; the relentless carnage of the first ten chapters may foreshadow the death of Paul’s group in Chapters 11 and 12.