What is the plot for "All Quiet on the Western Front"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This novel is the story of Paul Baumer, a 19 year old German boy, living during WWI.  Paul is fresh out of school, and he and his friends decide to volunteer for the army.  They believe the slogans and propaganda that the government is putting out, all of which suggests that there is honor is fighting and there is a duty for young men to serve.

However, the boys quickly realize that the harsh realities of war are nothing about duty and honor.  The story shows Paul in training, on the battlefield, on leave, and at a field hospital.  As the story goes on, Paul feels more and more disheartened.  He feels alienated from his family, who have not seen the horrors of war.  He faces the corrupt side of humanity as the men try to survive on the field.  He sees how dehumanizing the machine of war is, and how he and his friends are treated by the leaders who are using them.  Towards the end of the story, Paul is the only one of his friends left living.  It is at the very end of the story and the war that Paul himself is killed, on a day with little fighting.

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adven-ture to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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