Patience makes everything better
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet
Like fine wine, it gets better with time. After a slow start, All Quiet on the Western Front blossoms into a great novel that makes the reader break through a hard outside shell before getting to a soft inside of fine and compelling literature. Reading All Quiet on the Western Front has elevated me as a reader in so many ways. It not only has taught me to be a more vigilant annotator, but it has also made me more trained in finding the small details that add to a book. I found this book to be a gripping story about war and the men who fought it.
I went into the reading assignment having already read a portion of the book. While my knowledge of the book was already pretty substantial (or so I thought), once I started reading the book I thought I would be able to cruise through the first couple of chapters based on my prior reading. I planned to highlight a lot and simply read the story, but I definitely was doing the highlighting just because Fitz wanted us to do it. But once I really got into the book, I realized that when you highlight, you actually remember the good parts of each chapter and it makes you not only have a better understanding of the book, but you also enjoy reading it more. I learned that when I read just to finish the assignment I don’t come out of it with the same understanding as when I read for enjoyment. By reading intently I made sure to get the most out of each chapter and it has made this book very pleasurable to read.
Paul Bäumer showed me the hell of war and the worst possible parts of human nature that can be brought out in times of conflict. He showed me the true side of war and the brutality of it. I saw that after the first months of conflict, the soldiers were numb to the carnage, the shells didn’t faze them, taking cover from machine guns was a natural reflex, because over time it got more normal and they got used to it. While the beginning was hell to them, it eventually just became life. But by sticking together they were rewarded with the comradeship of their fellow soldiers. A couple of weeks ago I would have told you this book is a drag in some ways; the beginning is a slog and you feel like giving up on it. But once you get through the first part, you reach a point where it becomes a great book. Like Paul's experience, when reading this book the beginning is excruciating to get through, but over time you are rewarded. Often you must have patience to find the great beauty in parts of life.
Great beauty is only found through patience.