Fitz 8th Grade English
Personal Reading Response
“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus
In times of hardship and struggle it is our friends who will save us. In the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Arthur Wesley Ween, Paul Baumer forges friendships on the front lines of World War one. The two authors attempt to, and succeed in recreating the horror of war in this novel. As a result of their efforts, they have created one of best anti war novels to ever be written. Active dialogue and vivid description keep the reader enraptured in the novel from the beginning, through to the end.
In Chapter Nine of All Quiet on the Western Front Paul is trapped in a shell crater. He has become disoriented and does not know which direction goes towards the German trenches and safety. Heavy suppressive fire from gatlings has kept paul pinned in his crater. Paul is desperately hoping that he can find a way to return to his trench. In the night it is his friends who come to rescue him. Kat and Kropp come out with a stretcher, expecting to find him wounded, much to their surprise he is in perfect health, only a bit shaken. Paul, after being stuck in the trench for a day and a half is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, he is about to be returned to safety.
“There I hear sounds and drop back. Suspicious sounds can be detected clearly despite the noise of the artillery-fire. I listen; the sound is behind me. They are our people moving along the trench. Now I hear muffled voices. To judge by the tone that might be Kat talking.
I have found this book, and especially this chapter, electric. I read Chapter Nine late at night in a dark room and the book was able to grip and then control my emotions very easily. The chapter made me feel scared and edgy, until Kat and Kropp came into the equation and saved the day. At this point I felt an explosion of joy in my chest. I was thrilled that Paul would be saved and that he would return home again. This last chapter continued to help me to realize how difficult war is for the mind and the mental effects that it has upon soldiers. No book I have read has been quite like this.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a riveting novel. The protagonist, Paul Baumer, is relatable and noble. The readers struggle with similar themes as Paul, despite Paul's struggles being much more severe, the themes are still very familiar.
"I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few."
Discomfort is a part of life. In the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque & Arthur Wesley Wheen, Paul Baumer must struggle through discomfort. Discomfort physically, Paul has become accustomed to, but mental anguish is what he has less experience with. Paul is not expecting to experience discomfort at home of all places. When Paul is visiting his home while on leave he struggles through discomfort because of how the war has changed him.
“I bit into my pillow. I grasp the iron rods of my bed with my fists. I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless—I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end.
I ought never to have come on leave.”
This narration allows us to view the hidden effects of war. As we learn more about invisible differences (mental disabilities) this novel is a priceless narrative. We realized the brutality of war in that it not only effects soldiers during the battle but also when they are home. All Quiet on the Western Front shows us that brutal war leaves physical as well as mental scars. Throughout the book and throughout our lives we will push through discomfort and overcome challenges. Paul Baumer, although fictional, can offer us a window into a world we might not have experienced.
William Locke and Kevin Ewing
Literary Analysis Chapter 8
"Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place."
- Daniel Pink
Empathy is built into us. In the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Arthur Wesley Ween, Paul Baumer is a soldier in World War One who struggles with feeling empathy for Russian prisoners of war. Although other troops disregard the prisoners, Paul feels empathy. He is moved by their struggles, and feels like he should take action. Paul is standing guard over the prisoners when he is struck by a moment of compassion for them.
“I see their dark forms, their beards move in the wind. I know nothing of them except that they are prisoners; and that is exactly what troubles me. Their life is obscure and guiltless;—if I could know more of them, what their names are, how they live, what they are waiting for, what their burdens are, then my emotion would have an object and might become sympathy.”
This quote causes us to realize the horror of war. It makes us think that without knowing who these prisoners are men have been pitted against each other because of the order of a general. Hardly any benefit from war, and the suffering of the soldiers is not outweighed by the resolving of the conflict. All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the strongest Anti-War novels ever written.
In the last two chapters of All Quiet on the Western Front, I thought that the horror of war permeated all of the themes. In the battle, Paul fought physically and struggled to survive. He was wounded only by shrapnel and maybe some barbed wire, it would seem. Later, when Paul is visiting home we realize that these battle scars do not fade so easily. He is left with a sense of uneasiness, he cannot feel at home knowing that his comrades are on the battle field fighting for their lives. After what he has seen, after being torn from humanity and turned into a killing machine, he cannot come back to his former life. It makes me sick to think of how many people this has happened to. It doesn't seem right to send many off to war when they do not understand what the consequences will be. All Quiet on the Western Front is an eye opening book that is developing on themes I was already familiar with and letting me understand them more fully. All Quiet on the Western front also features fantastic writing that engages the reader. I am barely able to keep myself from reading ahead and am eager to read the next chapters.
Music is a part of life. Whether you seek it or attempt to hide from it, music permeates our developed world as well as the natural world. In New York you can hear the rhythm of the traffic outside of an apartment, all the hustle and bustle creates a buzz of activity accented by blasts of a car horn, or a subway rattling underfoot. If we open a window in a rural setting, the screeching of the crows that wake you up in the morning, the chirps of songbirds, or the rhythm of the crickets can form a song. More commonly, in our modern world we hear music from the radio or an iPhone. For some of us, music can come from the keys we push, the strings we pull or the drums that we beat. A couple of months ago, I went down to my basement and retrieved the Five-Octave keyboard that I had played when I was in 1st grade. I still remembered how to find "C" and the names of all of the notes, and after a brief refresher I was back to playing at my 1st grade level (not very advanced). I continued to practice, to watch tutorials on YouTube (between cat videos) and to get better overall. Now after a few weeks of practice I only regret that I haven't spent more time practicing. Find something you love to do and do it.
Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying.
- Bear Grylls
We are all accustomed to what is familiar. We crave familiarity because what is familiar is predictable, and what is predictable is safe. But what if we were to shed familiarity? What if you had to leave home and all that was familiar and go to an unknown location? Which five items would you bring?
This question was posed by Fitz during a recent class and it really intrigued me. I decided I would write a bit about this. In class I felt really limited by the five items, but I feel like it would be too easy if it was just what would you bring. So I will say what I would bring, if I was going to a location in the world on any of the continents excluding Antarctica or on the polar icecaps (these two locations are too extreme to take into effect). I also think that touchscreen electronics or "smart" devices should not be allowed. With these rules I can start designing a package that will help me survive and possibly thrive in any location I am placed in.
First object I would bring is my swiss army knife, with both tactical and sentimental value this Swisschamp with wood scales is a beauty to behold and is the most practical swiss army knife I have ever come across. If I had to take one item, it would be my swiss army knife.
Among the other items may not be as important, but are still definitely necessary to boost my chances of survival. The next item would be a Jungle Master knife (although it has more similarity to a mini-machete) this would also be useful for hacking and sawing. Its shape makes it a knife, but its size allows it to be used as a hatchet.
The third most important item to have would be some form of fire starter. I would bring simple "All Weather" matches, and then a fire steel (a high tech version of flint and steel that gives off hotter sparks) for when I have run out of matches. I would also bring my hiking backpack so that I could carry items with me, this would just increase the items I could bring. Another important item would be a metal container of some sort so that I could boil water to purify it.
In the backpack, if I were allowed to fill it, I would bring a sleeping bag (rated -10 or -30) and made of "DriDown", as it is the lightest and warmest insulation, also it ideally would be waterproofed. I would also bring a tactical flashlight (over 900 lumens, I believe is what makes it a "tactical" flashlight, so just a very bright rechargeable flashlight) as well as a water proofed "Complete Guide to the Outdoors" as it contains a mass of information.
Finally I would be sure to pack an array of synthetic clothes as well as my paracord belt and possibly some rope in the backpack. Synthetic typically dries out much more quickly than cotton and typically they come in varieties for warmer and colder climates, also synthetic clothes are more commonly treated with insect repellent which would certainly be helpful.
If I were allowed to bring an item that wouldn't fit on my person, I would bring my mountain bike. It would be useful for crossing terrain and could be stripped down for cordage (if I do not have enough). A bike would be most useful if I were attempting to escape a city and enter a more rural environment where I would feel much more at home and comfortable.
With two knifes, a backpack, a fire starter, a sleeping bag, a bike, some rope, a flashlight, a book and some clothes I feel that I could take on survival in any wilderness setting, to take on an urban jungle (or more likely escape) I would simply add my cell phone and my Ipad to my gear as well as a hand-crank generator so that I could recharge the items. For me, survival doesn't seem to be as hard as it might be, so long as I am placed in a familiar environment (not inside of a city). I think that comfort and familiarity would play a role in a person's odds of survival. I feel very at home in rural areas, but if I were dumped in an impoverished urban area, I would feel very much out of place and would attempt to flee to familiarity in order to survive.
Thinking of this list has really made me consider how accustomed I have become to my surroundings and how comfortable I am with them. In my environment I feel confident and secure, however if I were dropped into an environment that wasn't familiar, I would lose my shell of familiarity and would feel very vulnerable and exposed. What would you need to survive?
"Money is my military, each dollar a soldier. I never send my money into battle unprepared and undefended. I send it to conquer and take currency prisoner and bring it back to me."
- Kevin O'Leary
Childhood is a time filled with wonder and imagination. For some of us it is filled with inspiration and motivation. In 4th grade Ms. Pizzo (now Mrs. Fitzgerald) fostered an environment for our developing minds to learn and to explore. A prime example of this occurred one Fall morning when we were just a new class. Some kids had made paper money and were pretending to buy and sell stuff with it. Soon some other kids saw the paper currency and made their own. Soon there were 11 kinds of currency being used for 16 kids. As you could probably guess this created all kinds of chaos, despite most of them being used jokingly. Being the literal miniature economist fourth grader that I was, I took this very seriously.
One day, the chaos built and built up until the quiet hubbub of our classroom had turned into a roaring inferno of shouting and trading.
"10,000 bigernie's for 3 sambucks!" Someone shouted.
"No! That's such a ripoff! I need 5 sambucks!"
The hubbub kept building and building until my little mind couldn't contain it any longer.
"WE NEED A CLASS CURRENCY!!!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. The room went silent. I didn't think it was that bad of an idea. After about five seconds of dead silence, Sam Farley agreed with me.
"That wouldn't be such a bad idea..." He said wishfully. The next day he came in with a prototype. It was a 5 Pizzo bill, this was my first experience with centralized banking (I was 10). Soon everyone was given 20 Pizzos and our economy had begun.
It was not long before Liam Tasker had opened up his own Casino and Black Market Candy Dealings. He was amassing wealth fairly quickly. In order to counter his grab for power I attempted to find my own poker chips (which I had some of) and make smart investments. I bought a bunch of candies from Kevin Gao for five Pizzos so that I could resell them and possibly rival Liam's amassed wealth. Unfortunately for me, ten minutes later Ms. Pizzo closed the candy market leaving me with six pieces of candy worth nothing and a mere 20 Pizzos in the bank. Thinking quickly I attempted to save myself from bankruptcy by combining my assets with Kevin. A few days later Kevin and I bonded with David creating about 120 pizzos between the three of us.
The class economy continued through the end of the year with no major developments besides a few pizzos gained and lost through gambling at either Liam's or my casino (both were hosted on the same table). The climax of the year occurred during the final poker tournament. Connor Whitley and Liam Tasker were in the finals and the winner won the pot of 120 Pizzos. Just before the tournament ended however, we received news that James Bernene wanted to leave Liam and join our trifecta. Soon the deal was done and we had between the four of us some six hundred Pizzos.
This in-class economy was an educational experience for all of us involved as well as quite a lot of fun. I doubt that I will ever be able to experience anything like it, and if I do it certainly won't be with the same people. For this reason I will always cherish this truly unique experience.
I'm William Locke, a Fenn student who loves to write! The more you write the better you get!