In the book “All Quiet on the Western Front” written by Erich Maria Remarque, he uses many different strategies to set the mood of the story. The mood of the novel is expressed in a very depressing way as Paul and his fellow soldiers are at war with people dying and being injured in fights against other countries, lack of sleep, food and water. Their lives are lived day to day from everything they can find on the battlefield.
A way that Remarque expresses the depressing mood to the reader is by having Paul’s soldiers die of war induced causes. The first person to die is Joseph Behm and he is shot in the eye during an attack, they are not able to save him. The author makes this death depressing by mentioning “In the afternoon suddenly we heard him call, and saw him crawling about in No Man’s Land.” (Remarque 12) The author is already telling the reader, 12 pages in, that death is a common thing that will occur in this book, in war and to view the book in a depressing way. This is not the only example of a member of Paul’s company dying early in the book. Kemmerich, one of his friends, gets gangrene from his foot being exposed to damp and unsanitary conditions. His leg is amputated and the doctor refers to Kemmerich as “Bed 26” (Remarque 32) and says that he has amputated 5 legs today and that there had been 17 deaths in total that day. The author has now shown that death in this novel is very common and people’s lives mean nothing. This paints an image to readers that there is no hope for any of the soldiers, and death is a possibility for everyone. This is the depressing fact.
Another way that Remarque expresses a depressing mood to the novel is by having Paul and his soldiers have a lack of food and water, with imagery and detailed descriptions. The soldiers feel upset that they are hungry and have nothing to eat or drink. These are normal everyday activities that are usually not mentioned. In Remarque’s case, the soldiers are barely getting food and water, so they are happy when they get small rations, or when they steal something from the enemy they defeated. “Then thirstily we drink the water they have for cooling the gun.” (Remarque 117) Paul and his soldiers are so thirsty that they need to steal water from another army to quench their thirst. Having this happen makes the reader feel sorry for their situation and think finding water in war a challenging task. They receive rations but it is never enough, they are always hungry. “We pull in our belts tighter and chew every mouthful three times as long. Still the food does not last out; we are damnably hungry.” (Remarque 108) The author is showing the reader that food is very hard to come by, they eat as if they are saving a piece of bread to only eat for the rest of their lives. It is very depressing to know that Paul and the soldiers are living off what they receive from the government, scavenge, or steal from other armies.