Summary and Analysis Chapter 12



Now it is Autumn of 1918. All talk is of peace and an armistice. Resting for fourteen days because he swallowed some gas, Paul considers the possibility that an armistice means they can go home. But what is home? He and his whole generation have no goals, no aims, no passion for life and no direction. Sadly, Paul mentions that the generation before and after his had a civilian life as young adults; his generation does not. The days and years will pass and he will be alone without fear or hope.

Then Paul must go back to the front, alone. The narrative suddenly changes to third person as if someone else is telling the story. October 1918, a month before the armistice, Paul dies at the front; he did not suffer and there was an expression of calm on his face as though he was glad the end had come.


As the plot moves inexorably toward a conclusion, Remarque, becoming more philosophical and less objective, omits details of Paul's gas injury, two-week leave, return to the front, and fatal wound. Even the setting of the garden in which he convalesces is ambiguous. By this point, details have receded in importance. For Paul and the other veterans, bestiality and carnage have usurped three years of their lives, leaving empty, aimless men to be the future generation of Germans. A compelling cry of abandonment, Paul's final words, "I am so alone," summarize the treachery of war, an insidious malaise that obliterates all ties with life, leaving an empty, dehumanized husk, which bears no will to live. The final bitter irony is the quiet and stillness on the day of Paul's death: ". . . the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front."