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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
All Quiet On The Western Front is set during World War I, behind the German frontlines where Paul Baumer is assigned. The setting weaves back and forth between the warfront and the camp where Baumer stays. Once during the novel, Baumer goes home on leave, but the setting quickly reverts to the warfront. The only other setting in the novel is in the hospital.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
The narrator of the novel. He is a young German infantry soldier who volunteered for military duty during World War I. During the book, he feels secure with his soldier friends, including Muller, Kropp, Kemmerich, and Kat. As he loses them one by one, he grows more depressed and disillusioned with the war. He is the last of the friends to survive, but then he is also killed one month before the armistice.
A teacher at the school that Baumer attended. He is a propagandist who glorifies war and the German cause. Since he is trusted by his students, he is directly responsible for Baumer and his friends enlisting in the infantry. Later his students resent his lies and blame him for the death of Behm, the first of the classmates to be killed in the war.
A shrewd forty-year-old soldier who becomes Baumer's best friend. He is a friendly, good-natured, and resourceful man who always manages to find extra food and supplies and easy jobs for Baumer's group of friends. His death is a tremendous blow to Baumer.
A soldier who had been one of Baumer's classmates. Having been a good student, he misses school and often carries his books with him. Always logical and practical, he asks for Kemmerich's pair of leather boots when his leg is amputated.
Another of Baumer's classmates who joins the infantry. As a thinker and a planner, he believes that the generals from both sides of the war should be put into an arena together to fight it out amongst themselves. Kropp is the only classmate to survive the war. When his leg is amputated, he is discharged and sent home.
A thin wiry man who has a voracious appetite. He was a locksmith before joining the army.
A childhood friend of Baumer who also joins the infantry because of Kantorek. When he dies after his leg is amputated, his prized leather boots are passed around to and worn by his friends.
The first of Baumer's classmates to enlist in the army. He is also the first to be killed in the war.
Another of Baumer's classmates who joins the infantry because of Kantorek. Somewhat a rebel, he grows a beard and has relationships with women.
A drillmaster and a bully. He was a postman before joining the army.
The French soldier who lands in Baumer's shell hole. Baumer, filled with panic, stabs him and then, in remorse, bandages his wounds. After killing him, Baumer realizes that the enemy is just another frightened soldier, just like he is.
One of the soldiers in Baumer's infantry unit. After the war is over, he wants to stay in the peacetime army, preferring military to civilian life digging peat.
The soldier in Baumer's unit who is always dreaming of his farm and his family. In the spring, when he sees a blossoming cherry tree, he deserts the infantry to return home and plant his crops; he is quickly arrested and given a court martial.
The Company Commander who is respected by Baumer and his friends.
The company cook who closely guards the food from the hungry soldiers.