In All Quiet on the Western Front, what are some examples of syntax, diction, and tone?
In Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, the author develops his central themes of alienation, dehumanization, and disconnectedness by using several literary devices, including diction, syntax, and tone.
We are at rest five miles behind the front. Yesterday we were relieved, and now our bellies are full of beef and haricot beans. We are satisfied and at peace. Each man has another mess-tin full for the evening; and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage and bread. That puts a man in fine trim. We have not had such luck as this for a long time. (Chapter 1)
He sits down to eat as thin as a grasshopper and gets up as big as a bug in the family way; Haie Westhus, of the same age, a peat-digger, who can easily hold a ration-loaf in his hand and say: Guess what I've got in my fist; then Detering, a peasant, who thinks of nothing but his farm-yard and his wife; and finally Stanislaus Katczinsky, the leader of our group, shrewd, cunning, and hard-bitten, forty years of age, with a face of the soil, blue eyes, bent shoulders, and a remarkable nose for dirty weather, good food, and soft jobs. (Chapter 1)
The war has ruined us for everything. (Chapter 5)
Since most of the novel is spent describing a young man's close-up experience of war, the tone can be fairly heavy, grim, and gloomy:
I imagined leave would be different from this. Indeed, it was different a year ago. It is I of course that have changed in the interval. There lies a gulf between that time and to-day. At that time I still knew nothing about the war, we had only been in quiet sectors. But now I see that I have been crushed without knowing it. I find I do not belong here any more, it is a foreign world. (Chapter 7)
It is a warm evening and the twilight seems like a canopy under whose shelter we feel drawn together. (Chapter 4)
Other times Paul is reflective and brooding:
To me the front is a mysterious whirlpool. Though I am in still water far away from its centre, I feel the whirl of the vortex sucking me slowly, irresistibly, inescapably into itself. (Chapter 4)
The careful undulations in the tone serve as literary signposts to indicate character shifts that occur as the events of the story unfold.