In All Quiet on the Western Front, where and how does the point of view change?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All Quiet on the Western Front is told in 1st person point of view and uses present tense verbs.  The narrator is Paul Baumer.  This means that the entire story is told through his eyes.

The point of view shifts on the very last page of the book to a 3rd person, unnamed source.  The reason for the shift is to give a short account of Paul's death.  It was October of 1918 (ironically one month before the end of the war).  Not much is given in the way of details except that the army report that day was summed up in one simple line: "All quiet on the western front."

After living through the deaths of every single one of his friends and Army comrads, the main character and narrator of the story gives his life on what was otherwise a peaceful day one month before the end of the war.  The point of view shifts because Paul has not been telling the story up until now as if it happened in the past.  He relates the events as they happen.  And he is not (like some books do) telling the story from the grave.  His death comes as a surprise, a tragic final shock in the last two paragraphs of the book.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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