All Quiet on the Western Front


Cast of Characters

Paul Bäumer: Paul Bäumer is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. Paul’s innermost thoughts express the tragedy of the war. However, often Paul’s body is contrasted with his mind. He believes that war is futile, but his body continues to fight. Paul is complex and has acute sensitivity toward his comrades and his family. Paul once loved to write plays and poetry, but the war has changed him. He becomes disconnected from his emotions because he has no other choice. Otherwise, he would lose his sanity or become too depressed to carry on.

As the story continues, most of Paul’s friends fall victim to the war. Although he feels these losses deeply, Paul knows that he must compartmentalize the loss of his friends so that he can carry on with the war. Paul must also put the illness of his mother at arm’s length; because he is not able to spend much time with his mother, Paul must not dwell on the poor outlook for her life.

Paul becomes symbolic of each and every soldier who has fought. Although Paul is a German soldier fighting in World War I, his experience is common for young soldiers. Like Paul, most young soldiers experience horrific events that they cannot easily forget. Representative of a generation, Paul is an example of someone who believed what his supposedly wise teacher told him; instead of becoming a way of expressing his patriotism as his teacher had promised, the war ruined Paul’s life and destroyed any hope for his future. When Paul dies, his face expresses relief instead of fear or sadness. Even though he fought as hard as he could, Paul could not endure the war forever.

Stanislaus Katczinsky: Katczinsky, also known as Kat, is one of Paul’s comrades. As time passes, Paul realizes that Kat is his best friend. Kat has a knack for finding food and shelter. Eventually, he is Paul’s only remaining friend. When Kat is shot, Paul believes that he will survive. However, a piece of shrapnel in his head kills him and prevents him from returning home to his...

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