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Chapter Five

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Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Summary

Paul describes the unsanitary conditions of life at the front. Tjaden, tired of killing lice one by one, scrapes them off his skin into a boot-polish tin. He kills them by heating the tin with a flame. Haie’s lice have red crosses on their heads, and he jokes that he got them at a hospital where they attended the surgeon general.

Himmelstoss has arrived in the camp, proving the rumor true. He was caught tormenting his recruits excessively and has been sent to the front as punishment. Müller begins asking everyone what they would do if the war ended suddenly. Kropp says the war will not end, but Müller persists. Kat mentions his wife and children. The younger men mention women and getting drunk. Haie says that he would become a noncommissioned army officer since digging peat, his old job, is such a terrible occupation. Tjaden states that he would concentrate on getting revenge on Himmelstoss. Detering says that he would return to his farm.

Himmelstoss approaches the men, who rudely ignore him. He orders Tjaden to stand, but Tjaden moons him in response. Tjaden rushes off to hide before Himmelstoss returns with the authorities. Müller continues with his questions. They calculate that there are only twelve men left out of the twenty from their class who joined the army. Seven are dead, four are wounded, and one went insane. They mockingly recite questions that Kantorek shot at them in school. Paul cannot imagine what he will do after the war. Kropp concludes that the war has destroyed everything for them. They are not impetuous youths anymore but men perpetually on the run. They cannot believe in anything except the war.

Himmelstoss returns with the sergeant-major to punish Tjaden. Paul and the others refuse to tell him where Tjaden is hiding. The sergeant-major solves the problem by declaring that Tjaden must report to the Orderly Room within ten minutes. The men resolve to torment Himmelstoss at every opportunity. Himmelstoss returns later to demand that they tell him where Tjaden is. Kropp insults him, and Himmelstoss storms off.

Later that evening, Kropp and Tjaden are put on trial for insubordination. Paul and the others tell the court about Himmelstoss’s cruelty toward Tjaden during training. After hearing their story, the presiding lieutenant gives Tjaden and Kropp light punishments and lectures Himmelstoss about his behavior. Tjaden receives three days open arrest and Kropp receives one. Paul and the others visit them in the makeshift jail and play cards.

Kat and Paul bribe a driver of a munitions wagon with two cigarettes to take them back to the house where they heard the geese. Paul climbs over the fence and enters the shed to find two geese. He grabs both and slams their heads against the wall, hoping to avoid a commotion. The attempt fails, and the geese cackle and fight with him furiously before he manages to escape with one goose in hand. Kat kills it quickly, and they retreat to an unused lean-to to cook it, eating quickly for fear of their theft being discovered. They keep the feathers to make pillows. Paul feels an intimate closeness with Kat as they roast the goose. They eat their fill and take the rest to Tjaden and Kropp.

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Why is Himmelstoss sent to the front?
As a punishment
His leave is over
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All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front SparkNotes Literature Guide