90 pages • 3 hours readErich Maria Remarque
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Chapter Summaries & Analyses
The beginning of the novel describes a company of German troops at the frontlines of World War I who were engaging in trench warfare and are relieved for the time being. Ironically, the novel’s opening scene shows the men in relative comfort as they are fed and content for the moment. The narrator, Paul Baumer, devotes much of the beginning of this chapter to describing fellow soldiers in his company. These include Tjaden, Muller, Kropp, and Katczinsky (Kat). The characteristics of the men are generally revealed indirectly through dialogue, although Paul provides some narrative descriptions.
The first part of this chapter chronicles life away from the front and the kinds of activities the men engage in while not at the front. Their primary concern is the amount and quality of food, both of which are lacking. In the relative security away from the front, the concerns of the men are presented as almost trivial, especially in light of what’s to come in this novel.
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The chapter’s second part is a tangent into the past and how the men were recruited. Paul mentions Kantorek, their teacher, and how he enthusiastically encouraged the young men to embrace the war effort underway in Germany at the time.