The following themes are emerging in Chapters 1 – 6 of All Quiet on the Western Front.
- Value of Camaraderie
- Loss of Innocence
- Betrayal by Those Trusted
- Man’s Inhumanity to Man
- Abuse of Power
- Senselessness of War
By using three of the themes, how can I write a well developed paragraph for each describing how the theme is developed in the novel? (Each paragraph should include ideas on how the theme reflects the author’s message, using specific evidence from the book to support these ideas)
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After selecting the themes that the student feels most comfortable with, finding supporting details may be the first thing to do, followed by an organization of these details as they are ordered in the development of the specific theme. Perhaps, one example may serve to assist the student, for educators at Enotes do not write specifically for students:
(Example of theme) Theme of Loss of Innocence
- Paul Baumer and his friends' teacher has a romanticized view of war, telling the boys that they "stood on the threshold of life." Calling the young men "the Iron Youth," he has encouraged the youth to enlist. However, it is not long before the new recruits are disillusioned. Paul remarks,
The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in their minds with a greater authority and a more humane wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief....They surpassed us only in phrases and in cleverness....We loved our country as much as they...but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing of their world left. We were all at once terribly alone...
- In Chapter Six while Paul is on patrol, he reflects that the "tender, secret influence" that passed from teachers into their students cannot again rise in him and his comrades. Instead, they are in despair, "burnt up" only in facts and the horrors of war:
We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men...I believe we are lost.
- In Chapter Seven Paul goes home on furlough, but he is much changed. The old love and excitement for his books, for instance, is gone. As he sits in his room, Paul reflects,
I want that quiet rapture again. I want to feel the same powerful, nameless urge that I used to feel when I turned to my books. The breath of desire that then arose from the coloured backs of the books, shall fill me again, melt in me and waken again the impatience of the future, the quick joy in the world of thought, it shall bring back again the lost eagerness of my youth.
Paul's relationship with his parents has been altered, as well. For, his father wishes to hear tales of the war, unconvinced that there is no glory in battles for Germany. His sad mother merely watches him.
Organizing these supporting details into a topic sentence will begin the paragraph. A good topic sentence for such an assignment will have two parts to it: it has (1) a limited subject and (2) a precise opinion about that subject. For instance, the student could write,
(Example of a topic sentence) The theme of The Loss of Innocence is particularly developed in Remarque's narrative. There are two influences upon this loss; namely, the romanticized chauvinism of the youths' teachers and the experience of war.
Then, the student can develop each part with the supporting details. For more help on writing a paragraph, please see the link below. Good luck!
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