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Free Study Guide-All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
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Chapter 12

Summary

By autumn of 1918, Baumer is the only one of the six classmates still alive. He is amazed that he has lasted so long, when all of them have perished; he is also amazed to hear talk of peace. As the chapter begins, Baumer has been given a two-week period of rest because he has been sick with gas poisoning. He uses this time to reflect on his wartime losses and lament the pitiful condition of this generation that has lost hope and spirit; he worries about his own future.

In the last two paragraphs of the novel, the point of view is changed from Baumer's first person to third person. Contained in the paragraphs is an epitaph written for Baumer, who was killed only one month before the Armistice. Ironically, on the day of his death, "all was quiet on the Western Front."


Notes

The last chapter is filled with irony. Although there is talk of peace, Baumer cannot feel hopeful. He has been granted a rest because of gas poisoning and uses the time to reflect on the fact that he is the only one of his classmates who has survived the war; but he worries about his own future and the future of his generation, which has been stripped of hope and spirit by the devastation of the war. With bitter irony, Baumer is killed one month before the armistice. His physical death is not actually described, for it is anti-climatic; the real death for Baumer came with the departure of his friends. Each time he lost one of them to the war, a little of Baumer would also be lost; then when he lost his last and best friend, Kat, it was almost more than Baumer could bear. As a result, his death is almost a relief. In dying, Baumer will be permanently re-united with his friends. Perhaps that is why Remarque chose the day of his death to be "All Quiet on the Western Front;" it is not a frightening and brutal end for Baumer, but a peaceful beginning.

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