All Quiet On The Western Front-Characters Essay, Research Paper
Paul B umer
Paul told the story of the war as it happened to him. The reader is taken from the front line, to a catholic hospital, to his home while he is away on leave. His story tells of the sacrifice the soldiers gave defending their country. It also tells of the difficulties of losing friends, killing another man, and going day after day without much, if any, sleep. He died in October of 1918, just before the war ended. His death was described as this, “…his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.”
Katczinsky, or “Kat” as he is referred to, is the leader of this group of men. He is the oldest at the age of forty, and also the wisest. His opinion was always taken and his orders were followed. Paul also believe Kat to have a sixth sense. He was able to find anything that was needed in places where no one else could. Once he went out to “explore,” then came back over an hour later with bread and meat for dinner.
Albert was one of the students that enlisted at the same time as Paul. He was also a close friend of Paul’s. So close that after both had been wounded and were on a train home, when Albert became sick and was scheduled to be taken off at the next stop, Paul went off with him. After this stop they were sent to a hospital to be treated for their wounds. Paul after a few weeks ended up healing fine, the opposite was true for Albert. An infection spread through his leg leading for the need for it to be amputated at the thigh. When Paul returned to the war these two friends parted, never to see each other again.
Josef Behm was described as a plump fellow who, at first, did not want to join the war efforts. Later, after being called a coward, he was convinced by his schoolmaster and fellow students to join the army. He was the first of his schoolmates to be killed in action.
Detering was a man who mainly kept to himself. He is described as a peasant who thinks of no more than his farmland and his wife. On the way back from the front line he saw a cherry tree with white blossoms. That night he went back and took the blossoms and laid them on his bed. Two days later Paul discovered that he was missing. After a few weeks of Deterings disappearance news came that he had headed back to Germany but was captured by the military police. No more information about him was heard of after that.
Tjaden was a cunning and somewhat greedy man. After coming back from the front he was the one to convince the cook to feed food for 150 men to the eighty that returned. He was one of the men that lived longer through the war, but one day in a gun battle on the front Tjaden was hit in the stomach. This may not have been fatal except for the fact that he had recently eaten a full meal. An abdominal wound is bad with an empty stomach, but with a full stomach it is much more dangerous and painful.
M ller was one of the schoolmates that enlisted in the German army. In school he had been a bright student and during war he still carried around his old books. During bombardments it is said that he muttered physics propositions to pass the time. He ended up dying when he was shot at point blank range in the stomach. Before his death he handed over his pocketbook and leather boots (the one’s he had been given by Kemmerich before he died) to Paul.
Leer was another of the schoolmates to join in the war efforts. Being more mature for his age he wore a full beard going into the war. He stayed with Paul during most of the war, except when Paul was given leave and when he was injured and went to the Catholic hospital. In an attack, Paul, Leer, the company commander Bertinck and a few other men became trapped in a shell hole. Bertinck sacrifices himself to kill a man with a flame-thrower, and later a shell explodes and a fragment smashes into his face and another fragments slices open Leer’s hip. This fragment cut open an artery and in a few minutes Leer falls over dead.
Franz Kemmerich was the second of the schoolmates that joined the war to fall. He was shot in the leg and the spreading infection resulted in the need for it to be amputated. After the amputation a new infection went through and slowly killed his body. Before he died he gave his high quality pair of yellow leather boots to his friend M ller.
Haie was a larger man, described by Paul as a “peat-digger.” During his time on the front he collects parachutes from the French star-shells. These are shells that are used to illuminate the landscape during the nighttime hours. He sends these silk parachutes to his girlfriend to make dresses, shirts and other pieces of clothing with. He ends up dying in a counter-attack with a bullet wound to the back that punctured his lungs.
Himmelstoss, also referred to as the “Terror of Klosterberg,” was a short and disciplined corporal commanding the No. 9 platoon. His dislike for Paul, Kropp, Tjaden and Westhus showed as he ordered them to do drills in the mud, stand at attention in the freezing cold, etc. The last night before Paul and his friends were sent to the front, they “attacked” Himmelstoss in the street and left the next day knowing they had defeated them.
This is a schoolmaster who convinced many of his students, including Paul, to enlist in the army. While he would preach about how joining the war was an honorable thing to do, he himself would never enlist. His students would laugh when a letter was received from him because he send them their best wishes. And while he was safe, sitting at home with a pen, they were witnessing death and destruction all around them.