Jeopardy! category: WAR NOVELS (9-10-2015)
$1600 Daily Double! clue: Paul Baumer is an idealistic enlistee until he sees the horrors of war firsthand in this 1929 novel
The gist: Finally, we get away from the Americans.
Paul Baumer is the protagonist and narrator of Erich Maria Remarque’s groundbreaking, controversial All Quiet on the Western Front. Set during World War I, it follows a troop of mostly teenage soldiers fighting on the German-French border, using them to illustrate how the Great War took youths in the prime of their lives and thrust them into scenarios far beyond their ability to either handle physically or comprehend mentally, emotionally, or psychologically. Although Baumer, Kropp, Westhus, and Muller, the four teenagers and close friends in the group, try to convince themselves that they are ready for war and willing to fight, they spend much of their time thinking about home, their mothers, and girls. Still, after some time in the trenches they become accustomed to, if not inured to, some of the horrors of the war, and they take solace when they come across recruits even greener and less prepared than themselves. Some die, some are gravely wounded, and some survive, but it all seems to be for naught as only tiny patches of mud are gained or lost and the commanders in the rear echelons seem to have no understanding of or compassion for the men fighting in the front lines. The theme of insignificance is encapsulated in a communique received from central command at the end of the novel. Although the reader has seen soldiers just out of childhood die, kill, and experienced the ultimate highs and lows of human emotion, none of it seems to matter in the full scale of the war. The communique reads simply: “Im Westen nichts Neues,” or “there is nothing new in the West” – translated into idiomatic English by Arthur Wesley Wheen, “all quiet on the Western front.”
The clue: For some reason, Jeopardy! has elected to omit the umlaut from Paul Bäumer’s last name, which would probably make the German-ness of this clue much more evidence. Granted, “Baumer” is a pretty German name in itself, but it could easily belong to a soldier from many other Western countries. 1929 is another hint, suggesting that the novel probably deals with World War I, and when I think of World War I novels, at least, this one comes to mind first.
In Jeopardy!: Another lit classic, All Quiet on the Western Front is in over thirty regular clues as well as one FJ! clue, about the 1930 film version. The author, Remarque, is in 15 of them. World War I is in 12, and Paul Baumer is in 7. German or Germany is in 11. Aside from those, it’s often called anti-war or pacifist, and there are a few references to the army report that stated the novel’s title. Remembering that much ought to cover you for almost any clue about the novel Jeopardy! is likely to throw at you.