The Best All Quiet on the Western Front Summary

The Best All Quiet on the Western Front Summary
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All Quiet on the Western Front is a narration by Paul Bäumer who fights for the German army during World War I. Erich Maria Remarque writes it. Paul, together with his friends during the school years were part of those who joined the army voluntarily after the persuasion from the patriotic speeches of  Kantorek. After ten weeks of military training conducted by the cruel Corporal Himmelstos added to the hard life on the war front, Paul together with the friends he joined the army with, view patriotism as an overrated philosophy. The physical terror makes them view war differently as opposed to the days they thought it meant glory and honor.

The Complete Synopsis of the Text

Paul and his comrades received a short break from the war after two weeks. Out of a platoon of 150 army men, only 80 of them remain. The cook feels uncomfortable and denies giving the survivors the food allocated for the dead men. However, he finally agrees to do so. The survivors enjoy more food than was originally allocated to each of them. Paul and his friends pay a visit to Kemmerich who is their former classmate. Kemmerich had recently undergone an amputation after contracting gangrene. Though he is dying at a slow rate, Muller and another former classmate, need the boots that previously belonged to Kemmerich for themselves. Unlike the other soldiers who think that Müller is insensitive, Paul sees it as being pragmatic as Kemmerich may no longer need the boots. After going through the agony associated with war, Paul notices one to learn to dissociate themselves from emotions such as grief and fear. After that Paul comes back to Kemmerich when the man dies.  Kemmerich allows Paul to take the boots to Müller.

After a while, recruits join the company and Paul and his friends. Kat opines that if there were equity in pay and wages, wars would not be there. Kropp, says that there was no need for armies. Instead, the leaders of the nations should deal with their disagreements using clubs.

During the night, they go on a frightening mission to put barbed wire at the war-front. Ambushed by artillery, they are forced to hide at the graveyard. The force caused by shelling makes the corpses to emerge from the graves. At the same time, groups of men fall dead. After this horrendous event, soldiers that survived a return to the camp. There, they kill lice as they think to ponder on what to do after the war ends. Some of these men have plans, though most of them have a feeling the war may never end. Paul, on the other hand, feels he may not know what to do after the war. Himmelstoss arrives and is insulted by Tjaden.

The men are caught in the middle of a battle with a group of infantrymen. People are blown apart during the confrontation. At this point, Paul should become more ruthless during the battle to stay alive. After that grueling battle, 32 of 80 men remain. They are granted a brief reprieve. Paul and some of the colleagues go swimming. They get a group of French girls in the process. Paul finds it hard to recapture his innocence using the girls.

When Paul receives a 17-day leave, he spends time with his family members. He feels weird as he is unable to disclose the traumatic experiences with people. He goes to Kemmerich’s mother and tells her that the death of her son was painless. This is untrue. As Paul spends time with the prisoners-of-war, he feels that the Russians are normal people and should not be treated as sworn enemies.

Paul is reunited with the friends at the war front. Kaiser, the German emperor, visits them. During the battle, Paul is segregated from his friends. He hides inside a shell hole. Paul stabs the Frech soldier that enters the hole with him. As the man dies, Paul is remorseful. As he searches through his things, Paul learns that Gérard Duval, the soldier he stabbed, had a wife and child left home. Paul recounts the happenings to the friends later. They console him.

The men are assigned a simpler duty. They should guard a supply depot that is away from the battlefield. During the next battle, Paul and Kropp are hurt. They are forced to bribe a sergeant-major to placed them on the hospital train.  Paul undergoes a surgical procedure. Kropp has to undergo an amputation.  Paul is given a short before he is returning to the front.

As the German army yields to the pressure from the Allied forces, Baumer’s friends are all killed in the combat. Detering tries to run but is caught. Kat is killed when a shrapnel cuts and opens his head. By 1918, Paul is the one alive among friends. There are whispers the Germans would soon surrender. During a gas attack, Paul is poisoned. He is granted short leave after that. Paul is killed in 1918, October. That is the plot overview.