Study and Discussion Guide
1. Where are the men “at rest”? Five miles behind the front 2. Why is there such an abundance of rations? Miscalculation – did not count on so much of a lose of life on the front. 3. Who is the narrator? How old is he? Paul Bäumer – 19 years old 4. Identify the following:
A. Tjaden - skinny locksmith; biggest eater (19)
B. Albert Kropp – clearest thinker; lance-corporal
C. Muller G. Detering – smart; dreams of exams; carries textbooks with him D. Leer - full beard; likes girls from officers’ brothels E. Haie Westhus – peat-digger (19)
F. Stanislaus Katczinsky – leader of group; 40; shrewd, cunning G. Detering – a peasant; thinks of farmyard and wife
5. What is symbolic about Leer’s name? Leer means to have a lustful or sly look as Leer does. 6. Why do the men feel hostile toward Ginger? He resists in giving them the extra rations and continually makes them come back from the fighting to get their own food whereas other cooks bring it up to the men at the front. 7. What is unusual about the latrine facilities? They do not have a roof, and most of them choose to use the latrines that can be moved so that they can sit in a circle and play cards and gossip while they relieve themselves. 8. What has changed about these men? They are no longer shy about simple things like using the latrine in front of others. 9. What is a “latrine-rumour”? They were like gossip-shops. 10. Who is Kantorek? The boys’ schoolmaster who convinced them to go to war because it was the honorable and courageous thing to do. 11. Why does Muller wish Kantorek were there? So that he could show him how it really was on the front. 12. What different attitudes about war were held by the “poor and simple” and those who were “better off”? The “poor and simple” knew the reality of suffering and so were not deceived by the talk of courage and heroism like the “better off”. 13. What is the double horror of Behm’s death? Because he was shot in the eye, left for dead, and then stumbled back to the troops, only to be shot again because he could not see the enemy as he was shot in the eye. 14. What is Muller’s plan for Kemmerich’s boots? Do you think this is cruel? Muller plans to keep Kemmerich’s boots for himself. This could be considered cruel because Muller is more concentrated on the boots, but the reality of it is that they see so much death out there, and for Muller to survive, he must look out for his own needs well beyond Kemmerich’s death. In this case, he must consider how to replace his worn boots with Kemmerich’s before his are so worn out that he can’t function on the front. 15. What does the theft of Kemmerich’s watch tell us about the moral decay fostered by war? That even as a man is dying, others are only thinking about their profit – they are turned into animals, only worried about survival. 16. What is the mood/atmosphere of Chapter 1? There is some humor, but mostly we are being introduced to the ironies and finite corruptness of death and survival in a war. 17. Although the novel is told from the German point-of-view, what universal view does it offer of war? That death corrupts and takes the humanity slowly from all men no matter their background (you may have other views/reads on this as well). 18. Why is Kantorek wrong in referring to these young men as “Iron Youth”? Because they are not youth anymore, since they have aged so much by the cruelties of the war, and they are not iron, they only distract themselves by not thinking about the cruelties. 19. Why is Paul bitter in his feelings toward Kantorek? Because they feel mocked and tricked by his claims of valour about their participation in the war. -
1. Why does Paul refer to his generation as a “waste land”? Because they have left the connections of their families without making new families or aspirations. The time of their life that is supposed to be formed through experiences of...