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Joseph Buete
Mr. King
English 2 Pre AP
9 January 2015

Literary Entanglement of Paul and Elie


Have you ever wondered if a German and a Jew could be so similar? Paul is a German soldier,
from the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, fighting in World War I while Elie is a young Jew, from
the novel Night, trying to survive in the horrific Nazi concentration camps of World War II. These two
characters seem to be complete opposites at face value, however they are not. Paul and Elie are
entangled through literature in their respective novels. Paul and Elie prove to be entangled with each
other by their symbols, themes, and their positions in substance dualism.
Paul and Elie are entangled by their symbols in a few ways. One underlying case in each novel is
death. Both of the novels symbolize death in very similar ways. In All Quiet on the Western Front, a
symbol of death is fire. In Night, death is symbolized by chimneys and fire, as well. As seen on page 38
of Night, the quote, And as the train stopped, this time we saw flames rising from a tall chimney into a
black sky, clearly demonstrates both aspects of fire and the chimney and how they go together to
represent death in the camps. Another quote in Night, Here, you must work. If you don't you will go
straight to the chimney. shows once again that the chimneys also symbolize death. In Night, death is
symbolized by chimneys and fire. Both of these symbols go hand in hand and show how they are
entangled by symbolism.

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Another way they are entangled is by their themes. These two novels share many similar
themes as well. An underlying theme that is presented in both novels is struggle. Paul and Elie are
constantly struggling whether its trying to survive or help someone else survive. As stated by Elie in the
novel, Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere. This shows that Elie was
constantly trying to survive through the horrific suffering he was put through. In All Quiet on the
Western Front struggle is a theme, as well. This quote from page 16 of All Quiet on the Western Front, I
become faint, all at once I cannot do any more. I won't revile any more, it is senseless, I could drop down
and never rise up again. demonstrates the ultimate struggle Paul and all other soldiers during the war
went through. Another theme presented in each novel is the loss of time. In Night page 37 Elie states,
so many events had taken place in just a few hours that I had completely lost all notion of time. In All
Quiet on The Western Front it states, The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his
stomach and intestines. During this novel, the soldiers and Paul are in such a loss of time that their
stomachs are their sense of clock.
The final way that these two characters are entangled is through their substance dualism.
Substance dualism is the case in which the characters mind and body are in separate states. Stated in
page 85 of Night, Though I tried to put it out of my mind, I couldn't help thinking that there were two of
us: my body and I. And I hated that body., demonstrates the position of substance dualism that Elie is
in. In All Quiet on the Western Front substance dualism is demonstrated, as well. An example of
substance dualism is when Paul says, The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his stomach
and intestines. It shows that Paul and the soldiers minds are separated from their bodies.
All though these three examples of how Paul and Elie are entangled, there can be a countering
approach. They cannot be seen as entangled because they are two very different ages, and are of two

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very different nationalities. Although there are many arguments for their entanglement, there are some
counterclaims.
Entanglement in literature is a very neat subject. It offers a deeper insight into literature which
most cannot see at face value. Paul and Elie are prime examples of what can be analyzed and seen
through entanglement. These two characters are entangled because of their symbols, themes, and
positions in substance dualism.