Literary Devices- There are many literary devices in the novel. These include: similes, metaphors, irony, apostrophe, themes( lost generation, carmaraderie), tone, humor, symbolism.
Irony- Irony is defined as something that happens that someone does not expect. A huge instance of irony is at the end when Paul states" couldn't I just shoot myself... to go with him?"(289). This is ironic for the simple fact that one would not expect Paul to want to commit suicide just to be with his comrades. Another huge instance comes at the very beginning of the novel. Paul and his comerades have returned to camp from the front, and try to get extra food for themselves because they are eighty men short. This is ironic because their values have been altered by war, and one would not expect the men to just worry about getting extra food when eighty men are dead. Another instance of irony is when a French soldier falls into Paul's trench while Paul is trying to escape a bombardment. Paul states that he "must show him that I want to help him"(219). This is ironic because one would not expect a German soldier to help out a French soldier while trying to survive a bombardment. A huge irony in the novel comes in chapter 8. In this chapter, Paul is describing the base camp that he returned to after his days of leave. He describes how a prison camp of Russians is right next to the base. The soldiers used to give them ciggarette rations when they saw the prisoners. This is ironic because one would not expect the German soldiers to help out Russian prisoners of war.
Symbolism- The interaction between the soldiers and Russian prisoners symbolizes the fact that even if they are enemies they help each other out. Kemmerich's boots symbolizes the change of the men's value system. The men argue to see who will keep the boots. "Muller would rather go bare-foot over barbed wire... to get them"(20-21). The trenches in the novel symbolize the safety of the men and the changing of men into vicious wild beasts.
Metaphor- A metaphor is a literary device that compares two very different objects without using a word to signal that the comparison is being made. A good example from the novel comes when the narrator, Paul states"we have become wild beasts"(113). This metaphor is comparing the soldiers to wild beasts. This metaphor is effective because it gives an insight on how desperate the soldiers are to survive and what they will do to make it so. Another metaphor is when Albert states that "I think it is more of a kind of fever"(206). This metaphor is comparing the war to a fever. It is effective because it describes how war could be a sickness that one uses to gain attention and prestige. A great metaphor is when Paul states" we were all thirty two men marching in a block"(ch.6). This is comparing the men to a block that is motionless and seems to have no features. In reality, we would see different appearances on the men's faces, but when they all march in a block , their facial features disappear, and they become one.
Simile- A simile is a literary device which compares two things generally using the word like or as. A good example from the novel is in chapter 10, when Paul states"Burning houses stand out like torches in the night"(237). This simile is comparing burning houses to torches. The houses stick out like sore thumbs which gives them this torchy appearance. This could resemble a loss of cover for the men defending the village.
Tone- The tone of a novel is the author's attitude toward the novel's subjects, and/or themes. Some good tone words for this novel would be Anger, Shattering of life, and grievous. Paul, the narrator illustrates anger and grief when Kat and his comerades are taken from him tragically. Shattering of life can be applied to this entire novel because of the theme The Lost Generation. This novel is best described as a novel that illustrates the horror of wars, and that is the best tone of the novel.
Humor-Humor is obviously something that makes us laugh. There are two types of humor in this novel. The first is dark humor and of course the other is funny humor. The best example of dark humor is the piss-a-beds' arrangement by Himmelstoss. One would not usually laugh but this incident is funny. The best example of funny humor comes in chapter one when Paul is describing the general latrine. This could be dark humor as well, but it is more funny than dark.