Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

Soldiers' Pay by William Faulkner · OverDrive: eBooks, audiobooks and videos for libraries

Soldiers’ Pay is the first book written by William Faulkner in 1926. The story revolves around Margaret Powers, a widow whose husband died in World War I. She met Joe Gilligan, a discharged soldier who was on his way to home. Together, they decided to send Donald Mahon, an aviator who was released from a British hospital because he was not only going blind but was also going to die soon. Sympathetic about his experience, the two decided that they were going to send him home and spend his last time with his father.

Donald’s father is a pastor. Originally, Donald was actually engaged to Cecily Saunders, a voluptuous girl who can’t accept Donald’s injury and scars when he came back to her. She secretly has a lover named George Farr, who is crazy about her, but Cecily merely treats him like a toy. Not remembering anyone, Margaret and Joe were the only people who could take care of him besides Emmy, the housemaid whom Donald took her virginity.

Eventually, Cecily broke the engagement and eloped with George. Margaret, seeing that Cecily never loved Donald, decided to marry him herself. In the end, after he died, Joe told Margaret that he has loved her all the time. Before Margaret left, she asked him if he will go with her and he said no due to his religion. Changing his mind shortly after, Joe did not pursue Margaret but decided to stay in the pastor’s house while thinking about his future.

-Coreen C. 

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front is a war novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The title is an allusion to a German army report that stated “All quiet on the Western Front” because there was no military activity that day. The novel is about German soldier Paul, who serves in World War I. As the war progresses, Paul begins to wonder what causes men of the same generation to fight one another, and he begins to wonder what future he will have after all the suffering he has seen.

The novel begins as Paul and his comrades line up for their meal. The men are joyful, for there is excess food, due to the fact that over half of their regiment had been killed on the Western Front. They speak of home and their past. However, as time passes, tragedies occur as one by one, Paul’s friends are taken from him. As Paul witnesses the suffering around him, he cannot help but wonder what about human nature causes men, who have no personal grievances against each other, to slaughter one another.

Paul soon no longer cares for anything. He longs for neither home nor peace; the only thing that matters to him is his comrades. He believes that his generation is lost, that they were irreversibly cut off from their past, that the war consumed them and prevented any hope of a future, and that they would be rejected by previous and following generations.

All Quiet on the Western Front reveals major themes about human nature and war, like what causes a soldier to kill another soldier, despite the fact that they have never known each other and harbor no grievances against each other. Overall, it’s a classic with many relevant themes and should be read by everyone; however, it does contain lots of violence and some inappropriate scenes.

-Josh N.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.