Literapedia Book Notes for

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque


Characters

  • Paul Bäumer (ch 1)—the protagonist and narrator of most of the novel; he is 20 years old at the beginning of the novel and despairs of how the war has affected him and his generation; his death is described at the end of the novel (ch 12).
  • Tjaden (ch 1)—a former locksmith; suffers from bedwetting.
  • Müller (ch 1)—one of Paul’s former classmates; inherits boots from Kemmerich (ch 2); is killed by a stomach wound (ch 11).
  • Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky (ch 1)—a former cobbler; the oldest and the leader of Paul’s group; has a knack for foraging luxury items; killed by a shrapnel wound to the head (ch 11).
  • Albert Kropp (ch 1)— one of Paul’s former classmates; he is wounded in the leg, and it is amputated (ch 10).
  • Leer (ch 1)—one of Paul’s former classmates and an excellent mathematician; dies from the same fragment that kills Bertink (ch 11).
  • Haie Westus (ch 1)—a former peat-digger; receives a mortal wound in the back (ch 6).
  • Detering (ch 1)—a former peasant; goes AWOL to return to his farm (ch 11).
  • Franz Kemmerich (ch 1)—one of Paul’s former schoolmates; at first refuses to give his boots to Müller (ch 1) but does so before he dies (ch 2).
  • Kantorek (ch 1)—Paul’s schoolmaster who encouraged his students to enlist; eventually is drafted himself (ch 7).
  • Corporal Himmelstoss (ch 1)—in civilian life was a postman; torments Paul and his schoolmates during training (ch 2-3); eventually is reassigned to the front (ch 5).
  • Mittelstaedt (ch 7)—one of Paul’s former classmates; as an officer posted in his hometown, he torments Kantorek (ch 7).

Chapter Summaries

  1. Because their company had taken heavy casualties at the front, Paul and his friends are treated to almost double rations. Paul waxes poetical about his time at the latrine. Paul reflects upon schoolmaster Kantorek’s role in their enlistment. The group visits Kemmerich and realizes that he is dying.
  2. Paul reflects upon how the “Iron Youth” is really a lost generation. Paul remembers his training as a soldier and how he and Kropp finally foiled Himmelstoss. Kemmerich dies as Paul tries to comfort him.
  3. Young reinforcements arrive, and Kat astounds them with his flair for foraging. Kat reflects upon how being given military authority changes a man. Paul remembers how they ambushed and beat Himmelstoss the night before they left for the front.
  4. Paul’s group goes to the front for a night to spread barbed wire. They are caught in a bombardment in a graveyard and survive a gas attack. Paul helps a fair-headed recruit who ends up being hit in the hip.
  5. The group imagines what they will do in peace-time, and Paul realizes that his education hasn’t helped him. Himmelstoss arrives at the front and is insulted by Tjaden and Kropp, who are punished with open arrest. Kat and Paul capture and cook a goose.
  6. Second Company returns to the front and suffers an unusually long bombardment, during which they battle rats and madness. The attack comes and Paul’s group first retreats and then advances upon the French. On guard duty Paul reminisces about his youth. A wounded man cries for over three days on the battlefield. The recruits have difficulties, including Himmelstoss. Haie Westhus is wounded, and soon afterwards the company is relieved from the front.
  7. The company falls back to a field depot, and Himmelstoss makes peace. Paul, Leer, and Kropp have a liaison with three French women. Paul receives leave to visit home and see his mother, father, and sister Erna. Paul visits Mittlestaedt and observes him tormenting their former schoolteacher Kantorek. Paul visits Kemmerich’s mother and tells her that her son was killed instantly.
  8. Paul describes the conditions in the Russian prisoner of war camp. Before he leaves he learns that his mother is in the hospital awaiting her operation for cancer.
  9. Paul returns to his company, but they are at the front. When they return, the Kaiser inspects the company, and his appearance prompts a discussion on the reason for war. Paul volunteers for a patrol, but in the night becomes separated from the others. A French soldier stumbles into Paul’s shell-hole, and Paul mortally stabs him. Paul attempts to care for the soldier, but he dies, and Paul escapes.
  10. Paul’s gang is assigned to guard an abandoned village. During shelling they assemble a small feast, and afterwards they enjoy the rest of the supplies. Later they are sent to evacuate a village, where Kropp is wounded in the leg and Paul receives shrapnel. They are sent to a hospital, and Kropp’s leg is amputated. A fellow patient, Lewandowski, is visited by his wife and child. Paul is given convalescent leave but eventually returns to his regiment.
  11. Paul is with his company through the rest of winter, and spring comes. Paul reflects on how the war has changed him and his friends. Detering goes AWOL and isn’t heard from again. Paul tells the stories of the deaths of Berger, Müller, Bertink, and Leer. In the summer of 1918 Kat is wounded. Paul tries to carry him to safety, but Kat dies.
  12. Autumn comes, and Paul, now alone, has a short convalescent leave. At the end of it he returns to the front and dies on a day that sees very little fighting.

Book Note Creator


Hal Waller, instructor