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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque-Barron's Booknotes
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CORPORAL HIMMELSTOSS

For most of the novel Himmelstoss is the stereotypical military man who becomes a tyrant in his own small sphere on the basis of a little rank. He sports a waxed mustache and is, like Kantorek, physically undersized. A mail carrier in civilian life, he lets power go to his head. As the corporal in charge of basic training for recruits, he becomes a sadistic drillmaster known as the Terror of Klosterberg. He takes a special dislike to Paul and his friends, being sensitive enough to detect their quiet defiance, and earns the beating they give him one night after trapping him in a bedsheet. Later Himmelstoss is himself assigned to the front, to Paul's company. Before his first battle, he is the same pompous strutter as always, but during the siege he falls into momentary shell shock. Paul snaps him out of it and Himmelstoss fights bravely, together with his former recruits, even rescuing a friend of Paul. He emerges from battle so changed that he uses his influence to slip Paul's group extra rations.

STANISLAUS KATCZINSKY

Katczinsky, known as Kat, is a 40-year-old, down-to-earth soldier with bent shoulders, blue eyes, and a scraggly mustache. In civilian life he was a cobbler or shoemaker, but he knew a little about all trades. In war he becomes the leader of Paul's group, a welcome substitute for all those older men whose twisted values brought on the war. Despite their differences in age and experience, he forms an especially warm friendship with Paul. Sharp, tough, and resourceful, Kat is unequaled at finding excellent food in the most unlikely places. He is shrewd and cunning-the embodiment of the practical man who can turn his inventive imagination to use in any situation. In the summer of 1918, when Paul is carrying Kat to an aid station for treatment of a shin wound, they recall how Kat once similarly rescued Paul. They reach the station but Kat is dead-killed on Paul's back by a stray splinter to his head. This loss of the last of his friends drains Paul of his one remaining source of comfort at the front.


FRANZ KEMMERICH

The second of Paul's classmates to be killed, Kemmerich dies in great pain after a leg amputation. He had been excellent at gymnastics, but even after a year at the front he is still a slender boy. His nearness to death makes his face look childlike again. His dreams of a simple, peaceful life of forestry work die with him, and Paul trembles with rage at the wastefulness of war. All supplies being scarce at the front, Kemmerich's well-made leather boots are a prize passed on first to Muller and later to Paul. Since they originally came from a downed English flier, the boots become a tangible symbol both of brotherhood and of death as they move from man to man.

MULLER

Another volunteer and classmate of Paul, Muller still dreams of passing school examinations. Even during bombardment he mutters propositions in physics. Muller, with his protruding teeth and booming laugh, is a practical man, coarsened by the war. He eats all that is available in anticipation of lean times and asks for Kemmerich's boots even before the unfortunate soldier realizes he is dying. (Muller is indeed the first to inherit the boots and later gives them to Paul before dying of a stomach wound.) His transforming a comrade's death into a chance for good boots is one of the first shocking instances we see of what war does to men.

LEER

Also a volunteer and one of Paul's classmates, Leer shows an interesting mixture of a keen interest in mathematics and an obsession with women. Bearded and battle-hardened, he appears to be at least 40 years old. He claims the blond as his own when he, Paul, and Kropp visit the three French girls. He collapses of a hip wound in the summer of 1918 and bleeds to death within two minutes. Paul thinks, regretfully, what little use his math is now.

TJADEN

Tjaden is a former locksmith with a sharp, thin appearance and an enormous appetite. He is Paul's age, though not one of his classmates. When we first meet him, he is ready to pick a fight with the cook who does not want to serve 80 men the food prepared for twice as many. Because of a bladder problem, Tjaden was considered lazy by Himmelstoss, who persecuted him in basic training. He is bolder at the front, however. He is a fine enough companion in fighting and joking, but Paul and Leer and Kropp dump him when they visit the French girls.

DETERING

Detering is a one-dimensional stereotype of the simple, peace- loving peasant. He constantly dreams of his home, his wife, and his farm, and cares little for philosophy or military doctrine. In the spring of 1918, surrounded by battlefield carnage, he is driven nearly mad by the sight of cherry blossoms. They unlock his memories of growing things and, losing all caution, he deserts. He is caught and court martialed.

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