All Quiet on the Western Front Novel Study Unit

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All Quiet on the Western Front
Novel Study Unit

All Quiet on the Western Front offers a gruesome portrayal of a war lost by the Germans. This story was written is 1929 by a soldier who had lived through and fought in World War I. His desire was to breakdown the myth of life in battle. As this novel portrays the German army and the war machine as fallible and the realities of war as inglorious, this novel infuriated Adolph Hitler who ordered the book banned and destroyed throughout Germany. Many critics, however, consider it the best anti-war novel ever written. For those who read it, war can never again be seen to be a romantic adventure.

We will be reading, responding to and analyzing the novel, All Quiet on the Western Front. As we study this novel you will be required to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the context of the story

  2. Refer to literary terminology in written and oral discourse

  3. Through journals, interact with the novel, record and analyze significant passages

  4. Display comprehension of the story and unit concepts through additional assignments, quizzes and a test

Comprehension/discussion questions: questions will be used to fuel discussion and further understanding of this novel

Journals: see attached handout for completion expectations

Reading quizzes: quizzes per reading assignment to ensure reading comprehension of key ideas

Assignments: in addition to the journal, you will have 2 other assignments to complete to demonstrate your understanding of the context of the story, and comprehension of key ideas from the unit. These will be:

  • Synthesis Essay

  • Expository Compare/contrast essay

Test: in addition to reading quizzes, you will have one final test on the entire novel.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Log Assignment

While reading the novel, you will keep a log (that is, a record) of your journey through it. You are to sign up for one focus for your log. The title page of your log should state your focus.

Log entries will consist of:

  • Lines quoted from the reading regarding your focus. Your overall log should contain enough quotes to indicate a significant understanding of your focus. Ten quotes should be taken from throughout the entire novel (not all taken from only 2-4 chapters).

  • Areas of focus are:

    • Impact of the war on the character of a man—his life before war compared to the impact of life as a soldier due to experiences in training, camaraderie of soldiers and life on the front lines

    • Superstition, luck/chance, and animal instincts role in survival compared to a soldier’s training and experiences

    • Propaganda and the needs of the country compared to the brutality and reality of war

  • Your analysis should demonstrate 2 things:

  1. why you chose each quote (how it matches the theme you’ve signed up for) the

  2. and how it is significant to the development of ONE of the following:

      • Plot

      • Character development

      • Morals

      • Irony

      • Symbolism

      • literary techniques (ex. Flashback)

      • setting

  • Each quote should have its own separate analysis. A good format is to give the quote and then provide a 100 word analysis, provide the next quote and then the analysis and so on. Don’t forget to number the quotes.

Record all quotes with page numbers and analysis on a typed document.

Log Entry Requirements:

  • The journal must be clearly labelled with your name, the novel title and your focus

  • The quotes must be numbered and the chapters and the page number of the quote cited with each quote.

  • Your entries should all be typed an neatly presented

  • Write in the first person. Interact with the novel (you are NOT the character—you are reflecting on the novel and giving your reaction to it). The thoroughness of your response will impact your assessment.

  • A quote analysis should be approximately 100 words.

In addition, you will be completing some chapter comprehension questions (not all of the attached will be completed). These completed questions can be included in your log when submitted but it is not a necessity. You will be using this journal when writing your compare/contrast essay so treat the log as a resource for that future assignment. As this is the purpose for the log, no logs will be accepted after the second essay write.




QS: /15

TOTAL: /30

Journal Marking Criteria

1 6

7 10

11 13

14 15

Quote Significance and analysis

Quote demonstrates no interaction with the novel.

Student has not written in first person and/or their writing reveals no understanding of the deeper meanings being conveyed within the story.

An appropriate quote is not given and/or you do not demonstrate understanding of theme, character, setting and/or plot in your analysis

Spelling and grammar mistakes throughout.

Quote demonstrates little interaction with the novel. Student has not written in the first person.

The explanation of the quote is literal showing little understanding of the deeper meanings being conveyed within the story

The quote may not have been selected from an important moment within the chapter but there is some demonstration of understanding of theme, character, setting and/or plot.

Spelling and grammar mistakes are frequent.

Quote demonstrates some interaction with the novel. Student has written in the first person.

The explanation of quotes demonstrates an understanding of the novel somewhat at the inferential level but much of the analysis is a literal understanding.

The quote is selected from an important moment within the novel and demonstrates understanding of the development of theme, characters, setting, symbolism, irony and/or plot

Spelling/ grammar mistakes are minimal.

Quote demonstrates interaction with the novel. Student has written in first person and demonstrated they understand the text at an inferential level.

The quote is selected from pivotal moments within the chapter that refer to the chosen focus.

The analysis demonstrates superior understanding of the development of theme, characters, setting, symbolism, irony and/or plot

Spelling/ grammar mistakes are absent.

1 6

7 10

11 13

14 15


Too few quotes submitted to demonstrate understanding of the focus topic.

Quotes are not numbered or identified by chapter and page number.

Journal is not neat, legible and it is obvious you have not read the entire novel.

Limited quantity of quotes provided/focus topic is not fully explored.
Analysis may be missing or too short for some.

Some quotes are not numbered or identified by chapter and page number.

Some entries are difficult to read and/or are all taken from a limited section in the novel.

Quotes demonstrate an understanding of the focus topic. Analysis may not be as thorough.

Quotes are numbered and identified by chapter and page number.

Entries are all are neat, legible and somewhat spread out from within the novel.

All quotes provided demonstrate a complete understanding of each component of the focus you have signed up for. All analysis are approximately 100 words

All quotes are numbered and identified by chapter and page number.

All entries are neat, legible and from throughout the novel

Journal is submitted with a title page and is in an organized format

Chapter by Chapter Discussion Questions

Not all Questions will be assigned nor will they need to be included in your journal. They are questions meant to fuel discussion on the novel and to help you understand your focus topic.

Chapter 1 and 2

  1. In the opening scene, why does Paul’s company have extra food to eat?

  2. What do you think the author is trying to accomplish by starting with this scene?

  3. On page 12 the narrator explains that figures of authority like their teachers let them down by encouraging the men to go to war. What is his explanation for why they do it?

  4. Why is Franz Kemmerich dying? How do Müller’s feelings about Kemmerich’s dying differ from Paul’s feelings?

  5. Read the passages on page 18-19 where the men refer to themselves as being called “Iron Youth”. Explain what you think “Iron Youth” means?

  6. Baumer paints a grim, sadistic picture of Corporal Himmelstoss, yet credits the training period under him with supplying the recruits with attributes they lacked. Is it possible that Himmelstoss purposely employed his methods to "toughen up" the recruits and inspire esprit de corps in them? Support your position with examples from Himmelstoss' encounters with his troops.

  7. Explain the evolution of the men’s relationship with Himmelstoss with specific reference to the story.

Chapter 3

  1. What does Kat mean when he says, “Next time you come with your mess-tin have a cigar or a chew of tobacco in your other hand?”

  2. Explain what Kat means when he says, “…we are losing the war because we can salute too well,”

  3. Discuss Kat’s philosophy on power on page 43/44. Do you agree/disagree? What experiences could you draw on from your life that support or refute this?

  4. Review the men’s revenge on Himmelstoss. This man would have suffered extreme embarrassment and physical pain. Do you feel they were justified? Defend your answer.

Chapter 4 and 5

  1. Find and quote 5 examples of imagery. Reflect on why the imagery is powerful.

  2. Explain why it means more to the men when Kat says there will be a bombardment when they are at the front as opposed to when they are at camp.

  3. Explain Paul’s description of the soldier’s relationship with the Earth on pages 55-56. What do words such as “thy and thee” signify?

  4. What is the author’s purpose in describing the injury done to the horses on page 62-64?

  5. Paul and Kat explain that soldiers often rely on instinct at the front. What are they relying on when Paul says, “Shells hardly ever land in the same hole twice,…”? What is the reason for this type of logic?

  6. On pages 76-80 and then pages 84-88 the men discuss what they would do if the war was over? What does each man initially say they’ll do? What do the men realize as a result of this conversation? How does this realization fit with Paul’s remark, “That is our sole ambition: to knock the conceit out of a postman.”?

  7. Find the metaphor on page 82. What is meant by this?

  8. Why is it that Tjaden isn’t concerned about getting in trouble for not following a command by Himmelstoss?

  9. Note the statement, “They used to tie us to a tree, but that is forbidden now. In many ways we are treated quite like men.” What do they mean by this?

  10. Review the adventure that Paul and Kat embark on to capture the geese. What is the author trying to tell you about the relationship between these two men and amongst soldiers in general? In particular, note the language on page 97 when considering your response.

Chapter 6

  1. On page 99 the men joke about the coffins and who would receive which one. What is the underlying reason for these jokes?

  2. Why do you think the author includes the description of the men’s battle with the rats on pages 102-103

  3. Explain why the men consider it a bad omen to be served cheese and rum (pg. 103).

  4. On pages 127/128 we get a brief description of butterflies and birds. What is the author’s purpose in including this detail?

  5. Identify 5 different times where imagery is used. Explain why they are effective.

  6. Why do the men consider the recruits to be more of a hassle than a help?

  7. This chapter is filled with graphic and disturbing scenes. Which did you find the most disturbing and why?

Chapter 7

  1. What has changed Himmelstoss?

  2. Review Paul’s philosophy on terror on page 138 and the men’s need for humour on page 140. What does he mean by this? How could we relate this to our lives, our experiences?

  3. On page 149 Paul says, “…there is nothing here that a man can hold on to…nothing remains to recall for me the assurance and self-confidence of the soldier…” Why does this trouble him so much?

  4. On page 150 Paul wishes that it would “…all fall from me, war and terror and grossness, in order to awaken young and happy…” He then later says on page 151 that he is not “in the least happy”.

    1. What is it that Paul is really hoping for? Why do you think that, despite his visit with the girls, he is not in the least happy?

    2. On page 160 Paul remarks that “There is a distance, a veil between us.” Explain what this means with reference to the other experiences Paul has at home.

    3. Compare these incidents with Paul’s feelings as he sits in his room and ponders life for him after the war on page 171-173.

    4. Finally look at Paul’s remarks on page 185. Why does he say that he “ought never to have come on leave”?

  5. What does Paul mean when he says on page 153, “A man dreams of a miracle and wakes up to loaves of bread”?

  6. Consider the reaction of both of Paul’s parents to his changing out of his uniform on page 164. Why are they so different?

Chapter 8 and 9

  1. How does Paul feel when he sees the enemy—Russian soldiers—close up? When he sees them going through the garbage, is he disgusted?

  2. Use a t-chart to compare the Russian prisoners with the German people.

  3. What is Paul’s attitude toward war, now? What does he mean, “A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.” (p. 193)

  4. Looking to the future, how does Paul plan to live again “after this annihilation of all human feeling” (p. 194)? What will he do to give meaning to the meaningless slaughter in which he was engaged? How does this resolution parallel the prevalent theme of this novel?

  5. Who comes to inspect the unit, and why is Paul disappointed by the visit?

  6. What propaganda does Paul hate?

  7. Why do you think the author provides so many details about Gerard Duval’s career and family? Why do you think Paul makes the effort to find these things out?

  8. Are you surprised that Paul later tells Kat and Albert about the killing? How do they try to comfort him?

Chapter 10

  1. Do you find any humour—however macabre—in the section where the men are guarding the village? How is its inclusion effective?

  2. Identify the scene in which the soldiers are once again forced to suppress their emotions. Would it be better if the soldiers were able to suppress those emotions? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to suppress your emotions?

  3. Why does Paul decide not to make a sound as the doctor tends his wounds?

  4. What does Remarque’s attitude toward doctors seem to be? Do you think he’s exaggerating this? Or were they all the way he’s depicted them?

  5. How is Paul embarrassed by the young sister? Are you surprised that he is so easily shamed after all that he has seen on the battlefield? Why or why not?

  6. Chart the tone within the hospital scene. Where are the shifts in tone? What is the purpose of the scene with Lewandowski and his wife?

  7. Are you surprised by what happens to Peter? Why do you suppose the author provided this outcome? Wouldn’t it have been more realistic and consistent to have him die like all the other who were sent to the “Dying Room”?

Chapter 11 Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Paul tell about how Berger gets injured? What does this show about the morale of the troops?

  2. “Muller is dead.” *p. 279) Why do you think Paul describes the death of his friend so succinctly, so matter-of-factly? What does this show about his emotions compare to his attitude at the beginning of the book?

  3. What sorts of weapons are brought in by the Allies toward the end of the war?

  4. What has happened to Kimmerich’s boots? How can you tell that Paul has admitted to himself that he may well die?

  5. Where do you see again in this section the ironic contrast between those who profit from war and those who fight in it?

  6. Where do you see Remarque’s dislike of military doctors coming up again in this chapter?

  7. What words are used to evoke the senses of the reader as Bertinck and Leer are hit?

All’s Quiet on the Western Front End of Novel Comprehension Questions

  1. How does the ending make you feel? Were you surprised?

  2. How did the point of view change at the end of this novel—and why?

  3. In what ways are the issues in this book specific to WWI? In what ways does this book apply to war in general? What changes would have to be made if the narrator were a French or Canadian soldier? What aspects of the story would remain the same?

  4. As you replay this novel in your mind, which images stand out? Which parts did you find most horrifying? Where was the tension highest for you?

  5. Do you feel that Paul changed during the course of the novel? What, if anything, does he learn?

  6. Reread the preface to the novel. Has Remarque accomplished what he set out to do? What would you say to those who claim that the book is an accusation—that is a criticism of the German war machine? What would you say to those who claim that the book is propaganda?

  7. What do Kemmerich’s boots symbolize?

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