Explain what images from All Quiet on the Western Front linger in your mind and why.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Since my father was a solider in a difficult war, I related the scenes where the fog of war is described, and the difficulty of going home. When you go to war, you have to use coping mechanisms to maintain your sanity and stay alive. This was one of the most difficult wars we've had. At some point, there really is no return.
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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I have to agree with earlier posts--the image of the wounded horses remains paramount for me.  I'm currently teaching this novel to a tenth grade class, and their first writing assignment is an imagery analysis piece.  I read the pages that describe the wounded horses aloud to the class, and by the end, the room is absolutely silent.  The image provokes a visceral, an emotional, and a logical response from the reader that altogether make the reader understand the loss of innocence that is associated with the war. 

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The scenes in the trenches are always moving. I find myself feeling claustrophobic and panicked as soon as the novel takes me there. Those who went crazy and jumped out of the trenches are particularly haunting images.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For me, it's definitely the image of the coffin being thrown up in the air and falling on the man, injuring him.  This image seems to underline the horror of the war.  The war can even reach down and affect the dead.  It seems to bring the dead back to hurt the living.  It just seems like a perfect metaphor for how horrible the experience of the soldiers was.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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To me, the wounded horses always stand out because something about animals involved in this human endeavor of mass destruction is incongruous.  The screaming of a horse somehow feels worse than the screaming of a man.

The other image is that of one that is not even presented.  When Paul is killed, the fact that there isn't any description of it makes it stand out more in my mind.  It is juxtaposed against the statement that things were "all quiet on the western front," and in some ways he really just vanishes into the silence.  That always stood out to me, in many ways more than the images that were described vividly.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With a prevailing motif of the senselessness of war in Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, one image that is salient is that of the misery of the horses caught in the crossfire of battle in Chapter Four.  As Paul and other soldiers are dropped off after being sent to put up barbed wire at the front, he watches the road on which magnificent riders on horseback lead the filing troops of soldiers.  Paul romantically reflects that these riders "resemble knights of a forgotten time."  However, the dark reality of horses' being in battle is that they are mercilessly victims of man's hatred and cruelty.  Tortured by the hideous screams of the dying horses, Detering and others search for them with nightfall and shoot them despite Kat's having forbidden them.  Cursing, Detering says, "Like to know what harm they've done...I tell you it is the vilest baseness to use horses in the war."

In Chapter Seven when Paul returns home on leave, he feels completely alienated from his old life.  His former German school teacher who so glorified the war now seems idiotic to Paul. The books he once loved hold no interest for him, and, feeling so cut off, he wishes he had not come home.  His father irritates him with questions about the front while he and his mother, now grown very frail, talks  very little.  Poignantly, Paul reflects, "There is a distance, a veil between us." 

Then, in Chapter Nine, Paul is in battle at the front and trench mortars have blasted huge holes in the earth.  Body parts are scattered promiscuously on the ground and dead bodies hang from tree branches.  In the bombardment, Paul becomes lost and crawls into a hole filled with water, hiding under the muddy water while holding a knife upwards in case someone else comes along.  Soon, Paul hears footsteps and a body falls into the hole with him.  Immediately Paul strikes at the body, which has convulsions and then goes limp.  With machine gun fire above him, Paul is forced to wait with the gurgling body.  By morning, Paul notices that the man is still alive; he looks into Paul's eyes.  Now, Paul feels an obligation to the man; so, he cuts his shirt and tends to his wounds.  When the man dies in the afternoon, Paul considers the fatefulness of this man's dying.  For, had Paul crawled correctly to his trench, the man would still be alive.  Looking in his wallet, Paul sees pictures of the man's wife and children and writes down the address of the man. Paul swears,

I mean to live only for his sake and his family, with wet lips I try to placate him--and deep down in me lies the hope that I may buy myself off in this way and perhaps even get out of this; it is a little stratagem....I have killed this printer, Gerard Duval.  I must be a printer, I think confusedly, be a printer.

In these three images, Paul is struck by the senselessness of war and its gratuitous misfortune that it metes in its indiscriminate chance. 

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Remember that images are in the same category as imagery, which is description that appeals to one or more of the five senses.  This book is full of imagery that appeals to each of the five senses.

In order to answer this question, I encourage you to go back and skim a few of the chapters that chronicle the fighting at the front.  One thing this novel is well known for is its unabashed description of the experience of trench warfare.  I also encourage you to look again at some of the key chapters which display death.  Remarque was especially good at touching readers emotionally without his narrator ever becoming overly emotional.  Your personal response to such scenes (especially if it is an emotional one) can likely be attributed directly to the scene's imagery.

To remind you of a few key chapters, consider the following:

  • Chapter 4: the wounded horses
  • Chapter 6: heavy bombardment, taking shelter in the graveyard
  • Chapter 8: description of the Russian POW's
  • Chapter 10: description from inside the hospital (other soldiers pain and fear)
  • Chapter 11: Kat's death

 

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beachbabe711 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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For me, it's definitely the image of the coffin being thrown up in the air and falling on the man, injuring him.  This image seems to underline the horror of the war.  The war can even reach down and affect the dead.  It seems to bring the dead back to hurt the living.  It just seems like a perfect metaphor for how horrible the experience of the soldiers was.

What chapter is this in? I dont recall reading this part of the book. 

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