He has been granted a rest because of gas poisoning and uses the time to reflect on the fact that he is the only one of his classmates who has survived the war; but he worries about his own future and the future of his generation, which has been stripped of hope and spirit by the devastation of the war. The novel is a graphic account of trench warfare in World War I Kemmerich's Death The reader isn't really told a whole lot about Kemmerich's personality, and you never really have the chance to get to know him. Kropp, Muller, Kemmerich, and Baumer were all assigned to him because they were a tough, defiant lot, and Himmelstoss was capable of handling them. On furlough, Paul maintains his loyalty to Franz by facing the boy's mother. Kemmerich was Paul's childhood friend and had his leg amputated because a shell hit his thigh, but his wound was already infected and he ended up being the first to die.
Summary Baumer and his friends swagger like veterans as new recruits arrive. Paul is the protagonist and the Narrator of the Novel. They search for scraps of food in the garbage and sell their trinkets to the German peasants to buy food. Although he can inflict punishment on them, the Corporal is never able to break their spirits. As the horses moan in pain, accusing the men of their wrongdoing, Baumer manages to crawl into a shell hole in a graveyard; he finds he is sharing the hole with a coffin and a corpse, but can do nothing about it. The atmosphere is desolate, cold, and grim; the Doctors are cruel and treat the patients as guinea pigs.
The fighting continues in the trenches throughout the summer. Tjaden A thin wiry man who has a voracious appetite. Remarque spares no detail in describing the acrid smells, the piercing sounds, the wounded soldiers, the moaning horses, the corpses strewn in the graveyard, or the empty coffins. It is the first time that the reader is actually seen military action in the book. Ominously, at the same moment, they notice another train arriving in town loaded with returning wounded soldiers, who are carried off on stretchers.
Summary By autumn of 1918, Baumer is the only one of the six classmates still alive. Franz Kemmerich, Paul's friend, dies after the amputation of his leg. Baumer thinks that war is wrong; both sides claim they have a just cause, but neither really does. His friendship with them continues until he is granted a leave. After surviving training camp under the brutal Corporal Himmelstoss , the young men board a troop train bound for the front lines.
He is, at heart, a kind, compassionate and self sensitive young man, but the brutal experience of warfare teaches him to detach himself from his feelings. Tjaden announces that Himmelstoss has arrived at the front. Kat even taunts one of them with beef and bean stew. Throughout the war, Baumer has been completely dependent on his friends for pleasure and emotional security; but the war has taken them away one by one. He enlisted in the German infantry because Kantorek, his high school teacher, had glorified war and talked him into fighting for the fatherland. He is a friendly, good-natured, and resourceful man who always manages to find extra food and supplies and easy jobs for Baumer's group of friends.
He was a postman before joining the army. Before Kemmerich died, Paul went to a doctor and asked him if he could help out Kemmerich, but the doctor refused to see him. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. The and armies are shown attacking each other repeatedly over a few hundred yards of torn, corpse-strewn land. He's also preoccupied with his fancy boots, and wants to make sure that they come home safe with him.
Paul later finds the watch and hands it over to Kemmerich's mother, only to lie that had Franz died instantly and painlessly when questioned. For the moment, the soldiers are at rest, away from the front, dreaming of peacetime. The old classmates talk about how they had idolized Kantorek while they were in school; now they hate him, blaming him for their misery. Notes This chapter again serves as a contrast between living and dying. He is now worried about his dying mother, saddened over the realization that he has lost his youth, and concerned over the fact that he longer fits within the family or his small hometown. They decide they need to entertain themselves.
Later in the trenches, while the Germans are launching an offensive attack, he sees a squad cowering in a crater, which includes Himmelstoss. Franz Kemmerich had enlisted in the army for World War I along with his best friend and classmate,. Ironically, a stack of new coffins is placed against a nearby school, visually depicting the life vs. . As a result, he decides to choose life over death.
After he experiences the horrors of trench warfare, however, he tries to make amends with them. The company moves farther behind the lines than usual, where they eat, sleep, and spend time with willing French girls, whom they shower with gifts of food. Baumer comments that war is like a whirlpool whose vortex is slowly sucking them in. The chapter also reveals more of the horrible conditions that accompany a war. In the spring, when he sees a blossoming cherry tree, he deserts the infantry to return home and plant his crops; he is quickly arrested and given a court martial. Corporal Himmelstoss - A noncommissioned training officer. This act represented how worthless one's life if during the time of war.
The boots command as much, if not more, respect and attention than the man to whom they belong, and in this way symbolize the cheapness of human life in the war. As he thinks about his many losses in the war, Baumer begins to believe that the only way to emerge from the fighting is in a coffin or through a hospital. When Baumer arrives at the station, Kat is already dead. Baumer also thinks about his parents, remembering the vague, but amiable, relationship he had with them. In this first chapter, Baumer and his friends are away from the front lines, relaxing a bit after two weeks of fierce fighting. Paul's squad are bombed in a French town close to the front, where one of his friends dies and another is severely wounded. The schoolhouse causes Baumer to think about his former life.