FC: All Quiet on the Western Front and the Monomyth By Cam Piper
2: The Call
3: Paul first heard the call when he and his friends “were a class of twenty young men, many of whom proudly shaved for the first time before going to the barracks.” (Remarque 25). Paul decided to enlist for the war because most of his close friends decided to. They thought the war to possess an “ideal an almost romantic character.” (Remarque 25). They were attracted like moths to a flame to the new, dynamic world that the war would certainly provide them. Paul admires his friends and finds comfort being in a group. He follows his friends into battle, unknowing of the terror to come.
4: Life at the training camp came as a shock to Paul. It was then that the gravity of the war first began to affect him. Upon arrival, there was a little hesitation before jumping headfirst into battle. Paul was “at first astonished, then embittered, and finally indifferent,” (Remarque 25) at training camp. This hesitation acts as Paul’s refusal of the call. It is the turning point where Paul’s impression of the war begins its transition from the initial excitement to the bleak reality.
5: Refusal of the Call
6: Supernatural Aid
7: Chance is Paul’s supernatural aid. It is what keeps him alive throughout all of the dangers during the war. Wherever he is on the front, chance could either save him or end his life. Luck also plays a very important role in Paul’s ability to survive. It is difficult to set luck and chance apart from each other and they work together to keep Paul alive through the war. It eventually determines the fate of all soldiers. To stay sane in battle, “every soldier believes in chance and trusts his luck.” (Remarque 92).
8: Paul crosses the first threshold as he watches his friend die. Kemmerich is one of the soldiers who grew up with Paul, and has been with him since they enlisted. His leg has been amputated, and infection is beginning to take over. The war- the exciting, all-encompassing war- has begun to rear its ugly head. It has now touched Paul personally. The loss of life is not only heard in stories, for Paul it is now reality. He watches his injured friend as “the skeleton [works] its way through.” (Remarque 31). Now in a literal sense, Paul’s life before the war is being destroyed. | Crossing the First Threshold
10: Belly of the Whale
11: As the war progresses, Paul finds himself in the belly of the whale. He is surrounded by the war; it approaches him in all directions. The bombardment marks a point at which Paul is truly immersed in the fighting. It is difficult for Paul to pick out the individual gunshots as “the thunder of guns swells into a single heavy roar.” (Remarque 57). Paul is left with nothing but hope that some how this strange, dangerous world will spare his life.
12: Paul survives many battles on the front. He becomes one of the elite few who have survived long enough to gain knowledge and experience from the front. Each time Paul goes into battle, he uses what he has learned from experience, and gains some experience as well. Paul witnesses some horrific scenes while on the front. He describes the scene- “a lance-corporal has his head torn off. He runs a few steps more while the blood spouts from his neck like a fountain.” (Remarque 104).
13: Road of Trials
14: Encounter with a Goddess
15: Paul did not encounter a goddess in the most traditional sense. He speaks of his encounters with the earth, and how it has protected him throughout his struggle. He refers to the earth mostly as a feminine figure, one that gives him shelter and makes a kind of sanctuary for him. On the front “she is his only friend, his mother; he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and her security.” (Remarque 54). The earth gives him a place to hide from the attack, and he buries himself as deep into it as he can.
16: Temptation from the True Path
17: Paul and his friends are tempted away form the true path as he and his friends question the legitimacy of the war. They wonder why so many people must die, just for the settling of political dispute. They express that they feel the war never should have happened in the first place. Upon the discovery that they don’t really know why they are fighting, Paul’s friend jeers, “What exactly is this for?” (Remarque 180). It is exactly this question that tempts Paul from the true path. It makes Paul wonder why he ever enlisted in the first place, and whether or not his struggle was worth it.
19: Paul’s comrade Kat, appears multiple times in the story as his most influential friend. Kat has been with Paul since the very beginning, and is one of the last friends Paul has living in the final stages of the novel. Kat dies unexpectedly, due to a very small splinter in the head that Paul did not notice at first. This brings Paul to a sudden realization of mortality. It is, for Paul, the final straw. There is nothing more the war can take from him. “Militiaman Stanislaus Katczinsky is dead. I know nothing more.” (Remarque 252).
20: For Paul, the apotheosis occurs when he is completely alone. He has no more friends, and he knows that returning home would not bring him any satisfaction. He has accepted that he has nothing to fight for, in extension, nothing to fight. He has an outlook on the war that no longer hinges on victory, but rests on inevitability. He knows he does not control his fate, and he is finally in acceptance. “I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without any fear.” (Remarque 255). Paul is at one with himself, and his situation, in a way, no longer has control over him.
22: Master of Two Worlds
23: It would appear as though the war ultimately conquered Paul. It was not an adventure, and it did not leave Paul better off than before he enlisted. It was not death that ended Paul’s life. Paul and his friends were robbed of their lives from the instant they enlisted. After witnessing the atrocities of battle, these men could never again transition back into society. The war not only robbed them of their youth, it robbed them of a future. How does one go back to making shoes after years full of nothing but watching others die before him? How does one purchase groceries after watching body parts fly through the air, not knowing to whom they belonged? Paul would never have been able to win such a war. This is why he appeared “almost glad the end had come.” (Remarque 256). Death granted him escape from such a life. It freed him from the thoughts and visions, from which life would never have permitted him to escape.
24: Works Cited | Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. Piper, Cam. | Atonement. 2011. Cam Piper. Apotheosis. 2010. Cam Piper. Belly of the Whale. 2008. Cam Piper. Call. 2010. Cam Piper. Crossing the first threshold. 2009. Cam Piper. Encounter with a Goddess. 2011 Cam Piper. Master of Two Worlds. 2010. Cam Piper. Refusal of the Call. 2009. Cam Piper. Road of Trials. 2009. Cam Piper. Supernatural Aid. 2010. Cam Piper. | Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. Greenwich, Connecticut: | Fawcett Publications, Inc. Print. | A) | B)
25: All photos used in this book were taken by its author, Cam Piper.