Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Volpatte (vohl-PAT), a square-faced, jaundiced-looking, broken-nosed man who is hospitalized after almost losing his ears but returns bitter about the men in the hospital, both the malingering patients and the arrogant staff members.


Eudore (ew-DOHR), a pale, pleasant-faced former keeper of a roadside café. Ironically, the one night of furlough he spends with his wife is spoiled by the presence of four soldiers taken in because of a heavy rain. He is later killed on patrol.


Poterloo (poh-tehr-LEW), a pink-faced, blond former miner who accompanies some friendly German privates to an Alsatian village to see his wife and is shocked to see her enjoying herself with a German sergeant. He is later killed.

Joseph Mesnil

Joseph Mesnil (zhoh-SEHF meh-NEEL), one of six brothers, four of whom already have been killed by 1915. Almost maddened by the death of his last remaining brother, Joseph is later wounded and is taken by the narrator to a dressing station.

André Mesnil

André Mesnil (ahn-DRAY), Joseph’s brother, a former chemist, who is killed on patrol.

Corporal Bertrand

Corporal Bertrand (behr-TRAH[N]), a leader who is soldierly, serious, and friendly to and respected by his squad. He is killed.


Lamuse (lah-MEWZ), a fat, ruddy-faced peasant, killed on patrol.


Paradis (pah-rah-DEE), a plump, fat-cheeked, baby-faced former carter. He often discusses war with the narrator.


Cocon (koh-KOH[N]), a slight, desiccated ironmonger. He is killed.


Tirloir (teer-LWAHR), the former manager of a traveling circus, sent back from the trenches with dysentery.


Bicquet (bee-KAY), a squat, gray-faced, heavy-chinned Breton, killed on patrol.


Barque (bahrk), a Parisian porter and tricycle messenger, killed on patrol.


Fouillade (fwee-LAHD), a middle-aged, tall, long-jawed, and goateed soldier from southern France.

The narrator

The narrator, apparently the author, who remembers his friends, grieving for those who have died and brooding on the filth, brutality, and nausea of war experience.