Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
• INTERDISCIPLINARY TOPICS
1. If no one had told you that All Quiet on the Western Front was set during World War I, how would you have determined what war was involved? More specifically, how would you have known that the novel occurs during the last two years of the First World War? Include in your response political, geographical, and technological allusions.
2. Read also Remarque's novel The Road Back. It discusses more fully some of Germany's postwar problems, problems hinted at in All Quiet. Trace the relationship of the problems from one novel into the next.
3. It is unfortunate but true that, historically, war has led to technological innovations. List new things first widely used in World War I and locate references in the novel which suggest the human impact of this technology of planes, tanks, poison gas, and so on.
4. World War I is the first war from which we have documentary photographs. Seek out books containing some of this photography, and discuss the probable impact of photography itself on people's reactions to the war.
5. In his ironic poem "War Is Kind," written in reference to the American Civil War, Stephen Crane contrasts the supposed glory of war with its reality. Locate a copy of the poem and apply its stanzas to Paul, his friends, and their families.
6. Locate the poem "Grass" by Carl Sandburg, first published in his 1916 connection, Chicago Poems. Identify the wars in which the battlefields mentioned were important, and comment on the tone of the poem: How does it relate to Remarque's view of human ability to learn from war? to his comments on the earth itself?
7. Explain how the two following novels develop the theme of a young man's complete disillusionment as a result of war: The Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Stephen Crane and All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) by Erich Maria Remarque.
8. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was a contemporary of Remarque's. He too believed that war caused a loss of values. Compare the moral collapse shown in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (1926) with Remarque's themes in All Quiet (1929). How do the two novels seem to express similar views? How do they differ?
9. Read Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929) and Remarque's A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1954). Both are love stories set during wartime. How are the two stories similar? How do they differ?
10. In 1649, Cavalier poet Richard Lovelace wrote of war as a glorious mistress in the poem, "To Lucasta, Going to the War." Locate a copy in an anthology of English literature and cite passages from All Quiet that suggest that Paul's elders and teachers still held this romantic view of war as a glorious, honorable pursuit.
11. Wilfred Owen was a very promising English poet killed in 1918 in World War I. His poems were published in 1920. Locate Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" and relate it to Remarque's account of the gas attack in Chapter 4. You may include other references to lung injuries such as those in the hospital section of Chapter 10.
12. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) often wrote about the ironies involved in human behavior. In his poem "The Man He killed," he sounds a bit like Paul Baumer. Locate a copy in an anthology of English poetry, and cite passages from All Quiet on the Western Front in which Paul or Paul and his friends reach similar conclusions.