The History Book Club discussion

THE FIRST WORLD WAR > 12. HF - ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT - CHAPTER ELEVEN AND TWELVE ~ (271 - 296) (07/18/11 - 07/24/11) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Welcome to the continuation of the wonderful book: All Quiet on the Western Front!

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque by Erich Maria Remarque Erich Maria Remarque

Elizabeth S is leading this discussion.

This is a May/June/July discussion so everybody has plenty of time to read this selection.

This week's assigned reading is as follows for Week Twelve:

Week 12, July 18-24: Chapters Eleven and Twelve (pages 271-296)

This is the eighth historical fiction group selected book.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers if you are catching up.

This book was kicked off on May 2nd.

We always enjoy the participation of all group members. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. Usually any book offered as one of our discussion selections can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle or even Audible. You usually can also check out Barnes and Noble or Borders and they have the books in stock in their stores and on line. Audible has a summer sale going on and this book is available for download; oddly - Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Borders do not have this book available as a downloadable version but hardcopies and paperbacks are available as noted above.

This is a non spoiler thread.



Here is a link to the introductory thread:

Here is a link to the Table of Contents and Syllabus:

Here is the link to the glossary which is a spoiler thread so beware if you do not like spoilers of any kind - but the links added here will be very useful in understanding the people discussed, their background, the events and the battles, or the environment itself, etc.

Here is a link to the Military History folder which deals with World War I: (there is a lot here)

Thank you for joining the History Book Club on this journey. And it is never too late to start.

message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Summary of Chapter 11:

Time seems to have lost meaning. Baumer speaks of the "great brotherhood" (page 272) of the soldiers. All is reduced to survival. Detering sees a cherry tree in bloom, and a couple of days later deserts. He is caught and court-martialed. Berger hears a wounded messenger-dog, runs out to either rescue or finish him off, and ends up on a stretcher with a pelvis wound. Muller dies, bequeathing Kemmerich's boots to Baumer. The Germans are poorly fed and have little to no ammunition. They are more experienced than the Americans and British, but are over-run by the superior numbers of well-supplied men. The Company Commander, Bertinck, is shot while saving their group. Leer is also hit, and bleeds profusely, presumably to death.

While Kat and Baumer are alone, Kat is seriously hit. Baumer carries him to the dressing station, a great feat of strength and will, only to find Kat was killed by another bullet just minutes before arrival.

Summary of Chapter 12:

Peace is so close, but Baumer has lost hope and meaning. He feels his generation is lost in many ways. Even if he makes it out of the war alive, his life will have no meaning. But it doesn't matter.

In a stark two paragraphs we are told that Baumer fell, just days before Armistice Day. And perhaps he was glad.

message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments FYI, we are planning to discuss the book as a whole for next week's discussion, so I'll be focusing on these final chapters in this thread. If you want to get started on discussing the entire book rather than just the ending, feel free to jump over to the Book As a Whole thread:

message 4: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Were any of you surprised by Baumer's death at the end? It has been so long since I read it for the first time, I don't remember my reaction.

My impression now is that his death is a final seal on the downward spiral of hopelessness and futility that seemed to escalate through these last two chapters. Death after death, finally Kat, and then Baumer. Who's left?

message 5: by Brian (last edited Jul 18, 2011 08:33PM) (new)

Brian Glasspoole (btg55) | 3 comments I was truly disappointed with the death of both these brave heroes. There was no hope for Paul and his death was the book's final blow in a long string of tragedies. His final demise so close to Armistice released him from having to fit into a life after the war in a world that no longer made sense to him. The book is a strong statement against war, yet more powerful voices in Germany will muffle and silence its message in the years leading up to 1939.

message 6: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Well put, Brian. The end is sad and disappointing, yet fitting.

message 7: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 184 comments Brian, great comment. In a way, Baumer's death seemed the best way out for him. And, since we know what Germany became in the 1930s - and neither Baumer nor Remarque did - while Paul was musing on the impossibility of entering into civilian life and the difficulty of creating a life for himself, I kept thinking, "you have no idea," and wondering how Baumer would have acted in the time of the Third Reich.

Hard to believe, but I had forgotten the ending. In my edition, those final paragraphs were printed on the following page, and they were a real "punch in the gut"!

message 8: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Interestingly, Remarque did live through WWII, even though his character didn't. I believe he was in the USA during that time. He continued to write books that showed what war was like. I'll have to go look at things again to see if Remarque specifically commented on WWII at the time.

message 9: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments The very last chapter is so short. How realistic do you think that Baumer seems to not make any more friends after Kat died? Or maybe it just seems that way. I think Remarque didn't want any healthy survivors to carry any hope for the reader.

For those of you who have seen the ending of the musical, Camelot, even though the musical ends in the tragedy of King Arthur's death, the musical gives hope at the end as King Arthur passes his dream on to a young page-boy. By keeping Baumer from making new friends, Remarque makes sure the reader doesn't get any of that kind of hope.

message 10: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 184 comments Good point, Elizabeth. I came away from the book with a great sense of waste and of loss.

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