- Year Published: 1929.
- Pages: 296.
All Quiet on the Western Front Summary of Chapters
The novel is a classic tale of the kind of effects that are caused by war. People assume that if a soldier survives a war physically then mentally, they are also okay. This book works in a bid to dig deeper into the mental struggle of soldiers after the war.
Chapter 1 to 4
In the first chapter, we see how soldiers who had been on the front line now are resting .Only eight of them survived out of a staggering 150 of them. The main character we interact with in this chapter is Paul Baumer.
In the second chapter, we see Paul reminiscing about his life before the war took place. He has lost all the interest in the things which fascinated him before. These include poetry and writing. We see him realizing how the young folk is the ones who are affected worse since they have nothing to fall back to after the war. He, however, gets to appreciate the training they got from Corporal Himmelstoss. However, we see of the young recruits plotting on how the will carry out revenge on him. We are also experiencing the agony of Kemmerich who is about to die.
Since the war needs to be won, more young men are sent in to reinforce their team. One of them , Kat, fascinates Paul with his ability in convincing the strict cook to serve him more food. He is also a young man of radical ideas believing that all soldiers should be provided with the same amount of food and equal salary. In the fourth chapter, the new recruits are seen to be filled with fear when they come into actual contact with war.
Chapter 5 to 8
In the fifth chapter, we see a description of the unsanitary conditions that the recruits have to withstand. Himmelstoss also faces some punishment by being sent to the front for the harsh treatment he had subjected his recruits to. Kropp and Tjaden are there other people who face punishment for not obeying commands. We see how the war has left the place destroyed when the soldiers pass a schoolhouse. The reality of death is all over the air. When the bombs start to fall, hell breaks loose. Many soldiers die, and those remaining cannot access food. The Germans, however, retaliate on the French mercilessly. In an interesting twist of events, only 32 men survive out of the 150.
We see Himmelstoss being more humble than before after experiencing being in front. At this point in time being alive and getting food is all the comfort a soldier needs. A theme of sex is also seen in the seventh chapter. Paul and his mates swim across a river in order to engage in sexual relations with the French women they had met earlier. We see Paul’s family visiting him for encouragement. This happens at the time when some Russian soldiers have been captured. Paul is surprised to see no difference between him and the enemy. He offers them two cakes his mother had made them.
Chapter 9 to 12
In the ninth chapter, we see Paul glad to see that Muller, Kropp, Kat and Tjaden are still alive and he shares his food with them. The emperor of Germany also comes to see the soldiers. However, Paul and his mates are disappointed in him.Paul realizes that war is only to the benefit of leaders. He feels so remorseful for the people he has killed who must have had families.
The men try to cook some food, but the smoke gives a signal to the enemy who starts firing bombs at them.They, therefore, have to stay careful for about three weeks. His mate Kropp develops a bad fever and has to be taken to a hospital. Here Paul is faced with the reality of how soldiers die and suffer. Both Paul and Kropp get healed and are allowed to go home. The army keeps growing weaker, but the war still goes on. Detering leaves the army with an intention to run away to Holland. However, he decides to go back home. This leads to his capturing and execution. As if this is not enough, Muller dies an agonizing death soon afterward. The conditions for the German side keep getting worse, and Kat dies after being hit by a shell.
The United States joins the army, and now Germany is faced with a more daunting task than before. Paul at this moment is the only surviving member of the initial group. He is mentally destroyed, he inhales poisonous gas, and he died in October 1918.The army said his death was so calm when he was killed. This is what leads to the coining of the statement; “all quiet on the western front.”