What are some of the literary devices used in Chapter 11 of All Quiet on the Western Front? 

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mrs-tolley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I found a few more literary devices in Chapter Eleven of this fantastic novel.

The second paragraph begins with the metaphor "Our thoughts are clay,..." and then goes on to explain, "...they are moulded with the changes of the days." This metaphor compares thoughts to soft, malleable clay, and shows that the characters' thoughts, ideas, and perceptions of the war and their lives were constantly changing, affected by the events of each day.

The fourth paragraph contains allusions: "...the good-fellowship of the folk-song, of the feeling of solidarity of convicts, and of the desperate loyalty to one another of men condemned to death...." These allusions refer to other situations that the reader is familiar with and so they don’t need further explanation. We know that a folk-song is cheerful and poignant, we know that convicts form bonds that they may not form if they were free, and we know that men condemned to death form very close bonds with one another as their planned deaths come closer and in the absence of supportive family and friends. These allusions give the reader more insight into the characters' feelings and relationships.

In the sixth paragraph there is a paradox: "...on the borders of death, life follows an amazingly simple course...." In this example, two opposites -- death and life -- are juxtaposed, or placed side by side. A paradox is a literary device that contrasts two opposites to draw attention to them as a theme of the work. Living vs. dying is certainly a major theme of this work, and in Chapter Eleven the narrator is describing the feeling of the characters who are so close to the possibility of dying every day during WWI. Juxtaposing the words 'death' and 'life' draws these two concepts close together for the reader as they are for the characters.

The end of the same paragraph contains another metaphor: "But then unexpectedly a flame of grievous and terrible yearning flares up." This metaphor compares the thought process to a fire. Sometimes a fire pops or flares unexpectedly, as do thoughts. This metaphor not only illustrates the uncontrollable nature of thought, but also shows that thoughts can be dangerous, like fire. In addition, as fire is hot and heat is often a symbol for passion, this metaphor shows that thoughts can be filled with passion or emotion.  

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