On Historical Fiction Essay, Research Paper
Name of Book: All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date you started book:____________ Date you completed book:__________
1. In what period of history did the story take place?
The story told in All Quiet on the Western Front occurs during the two years just before the Armistice ended World War I in November 1918.
2. Who was the hero in the book? Paul Baumer
3. Name One Problem that the hero experienced:
When Baumer visits his home town he realizes that he can not communicate with the people on the home front because of his military experiences and their limited, or nonexistent, understanding of the war. When he first enters his house, for example, Baumer is overwhelmed at being home. His joy and relief are so great that he cannot speak; he can only weep. When he and his mother greet each other, he realizes immediately that he has nothing to say to her: “We say very little and I am thankful that she asks nothing” (page 159). But finally she does speak to him and asks, “?Was it very bad out there, Paul??” (page 161). He lies to her to protect her from hearing of the terrible conditions from which he has just returned. He thinks to himself, amazed that she would ask that, and confused as to how he should answer. He does not believe that she would understand or realize what he would say.
Even in trying to protect her, by using words that are false, Baumer creates a separation between his mother and himself. Clearly, as Baumer sees it, those whom have not been in the war cannot conceive what its like to be a soldier. On another level, however, Baumer cannot respond to his mother?s question: he understands that the experiences he has had are so overwhelming that a “civilian” language, or any language at all, would be ineffective in describing them. Trying to replicate the experience and horrors of the war via words is impossible, Baumer realizes, and so he lies.
4. List three events in this book that made the story seem real to you:
1) Early in the novel, when Baumer tries to console his dying comrade, Franz, the story seemed quite real. Hundreds of soldiers who fought in wars had to go through seeing their comrades die, and writing home to their comrade?s loved ones with the grim news.
2) When Baumer kills the Frenchman he is horrified. He killed the man with his hands, and saw him die, which differs from any other kill he has committed thought this war. When Baumer kills this man he feels himself on a personal level with this fellow human being. He realizes this man had a family, a life, and indeed he is no monster, just another person stuck in the war. He apologizes to the body, promises to it that he will write to the man?s family and take his place in the world. Since the man is a printer, Baumer will become a printer.
3) The way this book is written, through the eyes of one man, thats what makes it so different than a simple recollection of history. Baumer?s mind is slowly being perverted by his experiences in the war. Each friend he loses, each attack that is made on his platoon, to every poor meal he is given effects him. He sees himself as this young man whom had a great unforeseen future ahead of him, and years of school and childhood behind him, but the war had taken that all away from him.
5. In what Country did the story take place? This book took place in Europe. Since Baumer is in the German Army it would be my guess that the story took place on German battlegrounds.
6. What research did the author have to do before writing this book? The author, Erich Maria Remarque, was in combat during World War One. He was wounded five times. I think he gathered enough research and understanding for the characters from his own experiences during the war.
7. Write a definition for historical fiction: Historical fiction on s story that isn?t true, but based on a true event. The people didn?t actually exist, nor did their actions, but they could have. This book was on a serious and real level, historical fictions can also be incredibly false, such an example would be if Paul Baumer was actually an alien, yet still played a serious and realistic role in the World War.
8. What is the difference between fiction and historical fiction? As mentioned above, a historical fiction is a book based on a real event, but without real characters. Fiction is entirely false. For this book to be a fictional novel then one would have to completely remove the essence of the war and replace it with something such as a Star Wars movie. Since the World War is a tragic fact of history, it is the perfect setting for a historical novel.
9. List three other books and their authors that are classified as historical fiction:
TITLE: Tree of Freedom Author: Rebecca Caudill
TITLE: The Witch of Blackbird Pond Author: Elizabeth George
TITLE: Sarah, Plain and Tall Author: Patricia MacLachlan
All Quiet on the Western Front