Illustration of Paul Baumer in a German army uniform with a red background

All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

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What are examples of metaphors and similes in chapter 3 in All Quiet on the Western Front?

Examples of similes in chapter 3 include Paul's description of Haie Westhus's arm as "like a signal-mast" and his hand as "like a coal-shovel," Baumer's description of the airplane as falling "like a comet," and Kropp's comment that war should be "like a bull fight." Examples of metaphors include Kat's statement that the peasant soldier has been "put through the mill" and Paul's description of how Kat "paints" a picture for the men in words.

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Similes and metaphors are two kinds of comparisons; both are made between unlike things for effect. A simile uses “like” or “as,” while a metaphor is a direct comparison. Chapter 3 is concerned with the soldiers’ experiences in a new, inhospitable temporary camp. Paul presents Katczinsky as being impressively resourceful...

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in obtaining food and supplies. He also details a group act of revenge that the men carry out against the brutal corporal Himmelstoss, who routinely brutalizes the men.

Paul uses several similes in describing the men’s actions in capturing and beating the corporal. To emphasize the size and strength of Haie Westhus, he uses two similes in a row, describing Haie’s powerful arm and hand.

He put himself in position with evident satisfaction, raised his arm like a signal-mast and his hand like a coal-shovel.

Tjaden is one of the men who particularly resents the corporal, who had shamed him and another man who wet their beds. When Tjaden gets his turn to hit Himmelstoss, whom they have knocked to his hands and knees on the ground, Haie is already leaning over him. Paul uses a simile to emphasize the third man’s vertical, powerful position: “towering over them like a woodcutter [was] the indefatigable Tjaden.”

Paul also employs numerous metaphors. He uses “paint” for the word picture that Katczinsky creates of the normal platoon huts, which are definitely superior to their temporary quarters although far from luxurious. Those huts

have a faint resemblance to home; your rooms, full of the smell of stale food, sleep, smoke, and clothes.

Katczinsky paints it all in lively colours.

In another example, again emphasizing Haie’s size, Paul uses a metaphor for his hands: “He winks at me and rubs his paws thoughtfully.”

After they complete their punishment and humiliation of Himmelstoss, Paul ironically judges it successful according to the corporal’s own values, comparing his “educating” them to sowing a seed that grew into a plant.

Himmelstoss ought to have been pleased; his saying that we should each educate one another had borne fruit for himself.

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A simile is a comparison that use the words like or as, while a metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words like or as.

Katczinsky, or Kat, is one of those miraculous soldiers who always manages to conjure up supplies. He has a "sixth sense." When the men arrive at a new place, a "sorry hole," Kat asks the artilleyman there if there is a canteen or any place to get food, for the men are all very hungry. The artilleyman merely laughs at Kat. Kat goes out anyway, and comes back with warm bread and a sack of bloody horse meat. The artilleryman sidles over, hoping he might get some of the food:

But Katczinsky doesn't even see him, he might as well be thin air.

When the artilleryman is compared to "thin air," the narrator is using a simile—the man is invisible to Kat for having jeered at him.

The narrator uses a simile again as he compares Kat's gift for finding food to a spiritual gift: he finds food "as if moved by a vision."

Kropp, described as a thinker, uses a simile when he says that war should be "like a bull fight."

When the question arises as to why drill sergeants are such bullies, Kropp states that it is because getting a new stripe or promotion is "just as though they'd swallowed concrete." In other words, this simile says, the promotion makes them hard.

Kat, agreeing with Kropp, also uses a simile, saying every man is like a beast:

only he butters it over like a slice of bread with a little decorum.

Kat then uses a metaphor when says of the peasant solider in the army:

he has been put through the mill

Being put through the mill means the peasant has been ground down from his rigorous training. Kat compares a soldier to a piece of grain crushed by a millstone.

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All Quiet on the Western Front was originally written in German by Erich Maria Remarque. In answering this question, I am using the Arthur Wesley Wheen translation, which gave the English-speaking world the iconic title.

In this part of the text, the story's protagonist, Paul Baumer, and his friends meet some younger soldiers who are less accustomed to the conditions at the Front. By comparison to these soldiers, our protagonists feel like "veterans." Accordingly, when Katczinsky shows the new men to a mysterious tub full of beef and beans, Katczinsky "plants himself in front of it like a general," a simile which indicates much about Katczinsky's personality and the dynamics at play. In terms of the dynamics of the group, indeed, Baumer describes Haie Westhus as "the executive arm, operating under Kat's orders," a metaphor which imagines the company as a large corporation in which Katczinsky is in charge.

Later, when a German aeroplane is seen falling out of the sky, Baumer describes it as "like a comet" as it "bursts into a streamer of smoke." This is a vivid simile which serves to illustrate, to those who have never seen it happen, how an aeroplane might look as it falls.

The "ordinary tommies" in the company feel that they have been "put through the mill and sent to the Front." This is a metaphor which is in common idiomatic usage: it suggests that the men feel as if they have been ground through the system like grist through a mill, like a product to be used by the government. The men who feel this way, we can infer, feel expendable. Other commonly used similes are applied to Haie Westhus when he "raised his arm like a signal mast and his hand like a coal shovel." These phrases give a clear depiction of his physical position.

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