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All Quiet on the Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front is narrated by Paul Baumer. He is a young man of nineteen who fights in the German army on the French front in World War I. Unlike most during that time period, Paul and several of his friends and classmates from school joined the army voluntarily. They joined after listening to nationalistic speeches told to them by their schoolmaster, Kantorek

But after experiencing ten weeks of atrocious basic training at the hands of the small-minded, vindictive Corporal Himmelstoss and the inconceivable cruelty of life on the front lines. Paul and his comrades realize that the ideals that made them enlist are merely empty clichйs. They no longer believe that war is magnificent or respectable, and they live in unceasing physical terror that each day that goes may be their last. When Paul's company receives a short reprieve after two weeks of fighting at the front lines, only eighty men of the original 150-man company return from the front. The cook , Ginger, doesn't want to give the survivors the rations that were meant for the dead men He insists that he is only allowed to distribute single rations and that the dead soldiers' rations will simply have to go to waste but eventually gives in.

Paul and his friends visit Franz Kemmerich, a former classmate who has recently had a leg removed after contracting gangrene. Kemmerich is in the process of dying, and MÑŒller, another former classmate, wants Kemmerich's yellow boots for himself. Paul doesn't consider MÑŒller insensitive because like the other soldiers, MÑŒller simply realizes sensibly that Kemmerich is no longer in need of his boots. Not very long after this meeting, Paul returns to Kemmerich's bedside just as he is about to die. At Kemmerich's request, Paul takes his boots to MÑŒller.

Twenty-five younger men arrive as reinforcements. Paul believes Kat is the most resourceful soldier he knows, always able to scrounge up food. The men learn Himmelstoss is coming up to the front. Tjaden especially hates the Corporal because of his cruel punishment for Tjaden's bed-wetting problem. For vengeance, Paul and his friends ambushed and beat Himmelstoss before they left for the front. The soldiers are sent to put up barbed wire at the front. At night, during an artillery bombardment, the soldier dive for cover. The men set up the wire. Soon the artillery attacks them. Several men are hit, as well as horses. The shells tear up the graveyard they are in, uprooting coffins. Gas shells are deployed, and the men scramble to put on their masks. After another bombardment, more men die and are wounded. Still, the losses are fewer than expected, and the soldiers climb into the trucks and ride home. The men are preoccupied with the arrival of Himmelstoss, who was removed from his training post for his barbaric tactics and forced to go to the front. Himmelstoss shows up, and soon he and Tjaden insult each other. The men realize that out of their class of twenty, seven are dead, four are wounded, and one is insane. They reminisce about Kantorek. Kropp points out that the young soldiers who did not have jobs before will have difficulty getting used to a new one after having fought in the war. Tjaden is put on trial in the evening. The lieutenant lectures Himmelstoss for his inappropriate behavior in training, and metes out open arrest for Tjaden and Kropp (for insulting Himmelstoss earlier). The men visit Tjaden and Kropp at night. Later, Kat and Paul steal a goose. When they cook it together, Paul reflects how intimate he and Kat have become.

Rumors of an offensive recall the soldiers to the front. Rats invade the worn-down trenches and assault the men's bread. Days pass with no major attacks. Finally, the enemy launches an artillery bombardment one night and continues through to the next day, but no full attack commences. No one can get through the bombardment to bring back food. Several recruits throw insane fits. Finally, the bombardment stops and the attack begins. Paul stares into the eyes of a Frenchman on the ground and eventually throws a grenade at him. The Germans reach the enemy line and repel the French. More casualties pile up in the coming days; the men cannot always retrieve their wounded comrades in no-man's-land, and they die out there. The shelling renews its strength. New recruits are brought in, but they die at high rates from foolish mistakes. Haie is wounded in the back. In the end, the battle is a success for the Germans, who have yielded just a few hundred yards to the French. The men ride away and regroup. Second Company has thirty-two men left.

The men are given some time to rest. Himmelstoss wants to make amends with the boys, and Paul is willing to forgive him, since Himmelstoss helped Haie when he was hit in the back. One night while swimming nude, the men see three French women across the bank of the canal. They make plans to meet the women at their house at night when there are no guards. At night, with some food and gifts stowed in their boots, the boys swim across the canal. A small brunette takes a liking to Paul, though he leaves in an unhappy mood. Paul receives seventeen days' leave, after which he is to report to a training camp away from the front for four more weeks. A former classmate of Paul's in nearby barracks tells him that Kantorek has been called into the war in a low rank. On Paul's last night, his mother gives him advice about how to handle the war. Paul has previously been to the camp on the moors for training, but he hardly knows anyone there now. Before Paul leaves for the front, he learns his mother is in the hospital, and she will soon undergo an operation for cancer.

Paul returns to his company, where the men prepare for the arrival of the Kaiser, who turns out to be less intimidating than Paul had imagined. The company returns to the devastated front. Paul volunteers to go on a patrol to find out how strong the enemy is. He later gets lost and must crawl into a muddy hole. A man falls into the hole, and Paul stabs the body. The man convulses and, by the morning, is still barely alive. Finally, the man dies. Paul apologizes to the dead man and asks for forgiveness. At night, Paul crawls toward his trench. Paul and his friends guard an abandoned village and watch over a supply dump. They make the most of the village's possessions, decorating and stocking



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