young German soldier fighting in the trenches during World War I.
Paul is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. He is, at heart,
a kind, compas-sionate, and sensitive young man, but the brutal
expe-rience of warfare teaches him to detach himself from his feelings.
His account of the war is a bitter invective against sentimental,
romantic ideals of warfare.
in-depth analysis of Paul Bäumer.
A soldier belonging to Paul’s company and Paul’s
best friend in the army. Kat, as he is known, is forty years old
at the beginning of the novel and has a family at home. He is a
resourceful, inventive man and always finds food, clothing, and
blankets whenever he and his friends need them.
of Paul’s classmates who serves with Paul in the Second Company.
An intelligent, speculative young man, Kropp is one of Paul’s closest
friends during the war. His interest in analyzing the causes of
the war leads to many of the most critical antiwar sentiments in the
of Paul’s classmates. Müller is a hardheaded, practical young man,
and he plies his friends in the Second Company with questions about
their postwar plans.
of Paul’s friends in the Second Company. Tjaden is a wiry young
man with a voracious appetite. He bears a deep grudge against Corporal
pompous, ignorant, authoritarian schoolmaster in Paul’s high school
during the years before the war. Kantorek places intense pressure
on Paul and his classmates to fulfill their “patriotic duty” by
enlisting in the army.
in-depth analysis of Kantorek.
A noncommissioned training officer. Before the war,
Himmelstoss was a postman. He is a petty, power-hungry little man
who torments Paul and his friends during their training. After he
experiences the horrors of trench warfare, however, he tries to make
amends with them.
in-depth analysis of Corporal Himmelstoss.
One of Paul’s classmates and comrades in the war.
After suffering a light wound, Kemmerich contracts gangrene, and
his leg has to be amputated. His death, in Chapter Two, marks the
reader’s first encounter with the meaninglessness of death and the cheapness
of life in the war.
first of Paul’s classmates to die in the war. Behm did not want
to enlist, but he caved under the pressure of the schoolmaster,
Kantorek. His ugly, painful death shatters his classmates’ trust
in the authorities who convinced them to take part in the war.
of Paul’s close friends in the Second Company. Detering is a young
man with a wife and a farm at home; he is constantly homesick for
his farm and family.
French soldier whom Paul kills in No Man’s Land. Duval is a printer
with a wife and child at home. He is the first person that Paul
kills in hand-to-hand combat, one of Paul’s most traumatic experiences
in the war.
of Paul’s classmates and close friends during the war. Leer serves
with Paul in the Second Company. He was the first in Paul’s class
to lose his virginity.
of Paul’s friends in the Second Company. A gigantic, burly man,
Westhus was a peat-digger before the war. He plans to serve a full
term in the army after the war ends, since he finds peat-digging
soldier in a neighboring unit. Kindervater is a bed wetter like
patient in the Catholic hospital where Paul and Kropp recuperate
from their wounds. Lewandowski desperately wants to have sex with
his visiting wife but is confined to bed because of a minor fever.
of Paul’s classmates. Mittelstaedt becomes a training officer and
enjoys tormenting Kantorek when Kantorek is conscripted as a soldier.