All Quiet on the Western Front Characters
The main characters in All Quiet on the Western Front are Paul Bäumer, Kantorek, Stanislaus Katczinsky, Detering, Kemmerich, Müller, and Corporal Himmelstoss.
- Paul Bäumer is the narrator and protagonist of the novel.
- Kantorek is the patriotic teacher who urges Paul to enlist.
- Stanislaus Katczinsky (Kat) is a forty-year-old reservist in the army.
- Detering is a farmer who serves with Paul in the army.
- Kemmerich is a German soldier with a fine pair of boots.
- Müller is the first to inherit Kemmerich's boots.
- Corporal Himmelstoss is a petty tyrant who treats his soldiers poorly.
Paul Bäumer (powl BOY-mehr), a nineteen-year-old soldier in the German army during World War I. Because he has been drafted so young, he wonders what he will be able to do to earn a living if he ever becomes a civilian again. In a battle, he stabs a French soldier and then, filled with remorse, tries to relieve the dying man’s pain. When his conscience hurts him afterward, his comrades tell him that he has committed no crime. As the war drags on and more of his comrades fall, Paul becomes lonely and philosophical, but the meaning of the war still eludes him. One day in October, 1918, a quiet day on the Western front shortly before the war’s end, he is killed by a stray bullet.
Albert Kropp, a German soldier, one of Paul’s comrades. He loses a leg and is jealous of Paul, who, though wounded, loses no limbs.
Müller (MYEWL-ur), a German soldier, a comrade of Paul. He gets Kemmerich’s boots when the man is killed. Later, at his death, the boots go to Paul.
Leer, a German soldier, one of Paul’s comrades.
Stanislaus Katczinsky (STAH-nihs-lows kaht-SHIHNS-kee), a German soldier nicknamed Kat. When he is wounded, Paul tries to rescue him, only to have Kat killed just before they reach safety.
Tjaden (TJAH-dehn), a German soldier. He is punished for insulting Corporal Himmelstoss but feels that the chance to insult the corporal was well worth the punishment.
Haie Westhus (HI-a WAST-hews), a German soldier killed while Paul is on leave.
Detering (DAY-teh-rihng), one of Paul’s comrades, a farmer before the war.
Kemmerich, one of Paul’s comrades. He has a fine pair of boots that his friend Müller takes when he dies.
Corporal Himmelstoss (HIHM-mal-stohs), a petty martinet who treats his soldiers cruelly.
Frau Bäumer, Paul’s mother. She saves her son’s favorite foods from her meager rations so that he can have them when he is on leave. She is dying of cancer.
Herr Bäumer, Paul’s father.
Erna Bäumer, Paul’s sister.
As narrator of All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul Baumer records the grim realities of war in the daily routines and terrible deaths that involve his classmates and comrades. Filled with patriotic zest and romantic notions about war, they hasten to enlist, but once in basic training they lose some of their illusions as they are tyrannized by Corporal Himmelstoss, a former postman, who constantly insults them and badgers them with a "thousand pettifogging details." Still, they are eager for battle until inevitably, inexorably they are either maimed or killed — Behm is the first to fall, shot in No Man's Land; Kemmerich is wounded, his leg amputated, and he dies three days later; Haie Westhus dies from a great wound in his back through which his lung pulses; Hans Kramer's body is blown to pieces by a direct hit; Martens loses his legs; Meyer, Hammerling, Byer, and Detering are all killed.
Another major character is the forty-year-old Sergeant Stansislaus Katczinsky (Kat), superb scrounger of food and battle weary and wary. Kat becomes Baumer's surrogate father, and, by extension, a surrogate father for Baumer's friends whom he guides, advises, and initiates into the hell of war. For Baumer, Kat is a positive force because of his age and because he has survived so long at the front...
(The entire section is 1,561 words.)