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Katelynn Nguyen

Ms. Dadabhoy

English Honors 2

1 May 2016

All Quiet On The Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque, is a Bildungsroman

novel that depicts many scenes of deaths wherein important themes of the novel develop. ​Paul

and his comrades, as well as the other characters, experience multiple tragic deaths such as

Kemmerich, the Frenchman soldier, Kat, and Paul’s that makes them aware of the harsh reality

leading to key themes of the novel.

The death of Kemmerich plays an important part in the novel in that his death circles

around the themes of lost of innocence and death. ​Sitting beside Kemmerich, Paul thinks to

himself, “This is the most disturbing and hardest parting that I ever have seen, [...]” (pg. 31).

This signifies how gruesome this death is to Paul because he has experienced countless dead

bodies on the frontlines, but to experience it with someone that is close to him wakes him up to

reality. The death of Kemmerich also comes to show how worthless one’s life is because a

doctor passes by him without even glancing at him. ​As Kemmerich dies, death is continually

consuming him,“Death is working itself from within. It already has command in the eye.”

(pg.14)​ ​Paul watches over his comrade in angst because he knows that Kemmerich will not

survive in such a ​cadaverous​ state. This further shows Paul is greatly affected and his innocence

is lost with Kemmerich being one of his first few friends to die with him not being able to

prevent it from happening. ​Death of a friend tremendously affects many and Paul is no
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exception, with Kemmerich, he realizes that they are no longer in a playground, some soldiers

are bound to die whether from illnesses or war injuries.

Gerard Duval's death and how Paul reacts to it developes into principal themes such as

the lof of innocence, survival, the horrors of war and comradeship.​ ​Paul’s instinct to survive

causes him to kill Gerard -a Frenchman soldier, “I do not think at all, I make no decision -I strike

madly at home, and feel how the body suddenly convulses [...]” (pg.216). ​During the time that

Paul Baumer has spent fighting in the war, he has yet to kill someone up close and having killed

this Frenchman soldier causes him to lose his innocence. However, when Paul is on the

battlefield he loses his humanity and his animalistic instincts surfaces, showing the true horrors

of war. ​Paul feels guilt after killing Gerard and tries to aid him but he does not survive so Paul is

talks to fill the void silence, “Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy? If [...] threw

[...] rifles and this uniform [...] my brother just like Kat and Albert” (pg. 223). ​Paul begins to

consider that the enemy soldiers are simply men just like him who are dying senseless deaths in

the war. Not only does Paul think Gerard is like him, but rather a friend had they not been

fighting and are stripped away of having the title of a “German soldier” and a “Frenchman

soldier.” He realizes that he cannot undo the death which has occurred by his own hand even if

he does try to do so. ​Gerard's death serves as a sign of the brutality that is the harsh reality of

what many consider a patriotic duty during a war.

Kat’s death is the most emotional for Paul since Kat is like a father to him and his death

revolves around the themes of the ending of hope and comradeship. ​Without even realizing Kat

has suffered a head splinter, Paul says, “We are going to be separated at last” (pg. 288). ​Paul is

vulnerable​ at this time because he knows that Kat would soon be gone and it is painful for him
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since Kat led him through the terrors of war, guiding him, leading him. Other than a friend, Kat

resembles a father figure to Paul and after losing so many of his friends, he felt all hope was lost.

An orderly who comes by tells Paul that Kat is dead and when he finally realizes it, he is too

stunned to speak and is filled with utter ​consternation, ​“Do I walk? Have I feet still? [...] Then I

know nothing more” (pg. 291). ​This scene truly signifies that Paul has lost his one and only

anchor in reality. Losing Kat meant losing himself and out on the frontlines, Kat was a

father-figure to him and their friendship is shown in the scene of Kat’s death. ​It is the death of

Kat that eventually makes Paul careless about living and Kat, being Paul’s hope, is gone.

The death of Paul ties the novel together and reveals the meaning of the novel through the

themes of peace and ending. ​When Paul died he, “ [...] fell in October 1918, on a day that was so

quiet and still on the whole front [...] single sentence: All quiet on the Western front” (pg.296).

On a day where fighting ceased, on a day so quiet, Paul died and this revolved around the theme

of ending. His death meant the end for him as well as the end of his suffering that he went

through experiencing his friends’ deaths as well as other soldiers. His death is also ironic because

he managed to survive up until the point where he almost got to go home, and at the last

moment, he died. ​Paul did not die in fear of any sort, he was rather in peace,” [...] his face had an

expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come” (pg. 296). ​Paul welcomed his death

as if he had been waiting for it and his death displays the theme of peace. He finally came to

peace with himself, almost as if he wanted to die and be with his comrades. Instead of being in

an immense pain, Paul was found to be as though he were sleeping in peace. ​Paul’s death

ultimately ties the novel together and gives the entire work meaning.
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All Quiet On The Western Front displays many death scenes that give meaning to the

entire work of the novel through themes. From Kemmerich’s to Paul’s death, the themes are

developed from the scenes and in the end the meaning of the title is revealed through the death of

Paul.