Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Characters

Paul Bäumer Timeline and Summary

  • Paul is the narrator. He rests behind the Front with "the guys," eating a big meal because only 80 of 150 men survived the last assault and food portions are almost double (the cook had planned for 150). The men speak endlessly about the food, savoring every morsel.
  • Paul visits Kemmerich in the hospital. His leg was amputated, but Paul and the others can't bring themselves to tell him the pain in his foot is phantom.
  • Paul dreads having to tell Kemmerich's mother of his death. Paul is repulsed by what he sees in Kemmerich's condition.
  • Paul thinks about his home, the books he was reading, the artwork. Contrasts of innocence and war brutality are poignant here.
  • Paul notes the ludicrous discipline he was given at basic training and then revels in how he and Kropp spilled a urine bucket on their commander Himmelstoss.
  • Paul sadly watches Kemmerich die with hospital orderlies and doctors not really caring about enlisted men (not officers). The utilitarian Müller covets Kemmerich's boots – not out of greed but to help his chances for survival.
  • Paul tries to comfort Kemmerich, but cannot. Kemmerich cries all the way into his death. Paul gives Müller the boots.
  • Kat and Paul go hunting for food and return with horse-flesh, which they roast tender.
  • Paul and his friends corner Himmelstoss when he returns from a pub one night and beat the living daylights out of him with a switch. Paul watches more than participates.
  • Paul and the troops go to the front to lay barbed wire fence. They are shelled actively along the way.
  • Paul describes the Front as an odd whirlpool of shells.
  • They work their mission, crawling around shell holes and bomb craters, air raids from above, and gunfire.
  • Paul finds a new recruit who has crapped his pants in fear, and kindly helps him get himself together with no teasing.
  • They return home and, en route, they are again bombed heavily. This is a gas raid; Paul dons his mask.
  • Paul and the others take shelter in a graveyard, throw bodies out of coffins, and take their places to hide in them.
  • They meet wounded soldiers along the way and help bandage where they can. One badly injured man should be euthanized, but they can not get to him in time – medics carry him away with Paul and Kat knowing that he will suffer much before he dies.
  • The men sit around again eating and discussing the war's lunacies. Himmelstoss will join them at the front.
  • Back at camp, Himmelstoss accosts the men and they show him no respect. After name-calling, Himmelstoss storms away, threatening to court martial Tjaden and Müller.
  • Paul goes off with Kat to catch a goose. He does. They eat.
  • An offensive is coming and, while the men wait tensely, they catch and kill rats that have overrun their camp. Paul is a good rat catcher.
  • The offensive starts and the men are gassed, but they wear masks and survive. They are deep in the front. Bombs hit round the clock and with such fury that their trenches are almost evaporated.
  • Paul describes the men as "wild beasts" trying to survive. The men raid some food and return to safe areas back behind the front.
  • Paul details the gut-wrenching sounds of one of their company's men who is shot. He takes three days to die in "no man's land," where he can not be rescued by others as they would risk certain death.
  • Paul describes gruesome injuries.
  • The company has retreated further back to regroup and bring reinforcements. Paul ponders how quickly things change at the Front – fighting, retreating, lather, rinse, repeating. The Front is all terror.
  • The men walk to a nearby river and meet some French women. Paul is just a spectator in all of this.
  • Paul is sent home on leave and finds his mother sick with cancer. She and he connect emotionally, but he is depressed at seeing her like this.
  • Paul's father wants to drag him around the village to meet his friends so they can hear glorious war stories from the front.
  • His father worries about how much Paul's mother's medical bills will cost.
  • Paul is hating his "leave" – he begins to long for the Front.
  • Paul looks over the posters decorating his room from his youth – they feel a million miles away, as though they were built by a different person.
  • Paul visits Kemmerich's mother – he swears her son died fast, even though he did not. Paul has no qualms swearing to this lie.
  • Paul returns to his basic training base and laughs to see his old school teacher Kantorek humping it in his own basic training as he is prepared to be sent to the Front.
  • Paul says a soft good-bye to his mother, sorry he ever came here on leave.
  • Paul attends advanced training at his old army camp, which is next door to a Russian POW camp. Compared to those prisoners, Paul has life relatively easy. They forage for garbage while others complain about the food not being warm enough.
  • Paul is moved by the fact that, seemingly every day, another Russian is dead and buried.
  • His father visits him, nervous about his mother's operation. The meeting is painful. Paul can't wait for his father and sister to leave.
  • Several days of travel on the road get Paul back to the Front. He is relieved to be there.
  • The Kaiser shows up and decorates the men, including Paul.
  • The men are sent back to the line. Paul volunteers for a patrol mission to determine where the Front lines are now.
  • He crawls along at night and is bombed heavily, feeling very close to death. He has crawled behind the enemy lines, perhaps by accident.
  • A French soldier jumps into his foxhole and Paul stabs him. In his horror, Paul sits with the man, watching him die.
  • At the end, Paul takes the man's wallet and sees he has a wife and a daughter. Moved and crushed, Paul promises to write to them, knowing he won't. Knowing the man's name is important to Paul – Gerard Duval.
  • Paul is rejoined by his comrades to guard an abandoned village.
  • The men "luck out" in getting a supply job. They supply the French village's goods to the German soldiers, but also get to eat from those supplies themselves.
  • They stumble on two suckling pigs, which they kill and eat – but then get diarrhea from them.
  • In another battle, Albert and Paul are injured. They are sent to the hospital where Paul fights hard any need to be knocked out before the operation. He promises the surgeon that he will stop moving and the surgeon takes out shrapnel from Paul's leg with no anesthesia.
  • Paul recovers over three weeks in an uncaring hospital with his mates.
  • Paul watches amputee Albert and others enter The Dying Room, from which they will likely never return.
  • Paul heals and recovers. He's given a short leave, during which he sees his mother, now very feeble and dying.
  • Paul is sent back to the Front.
  • Paul details the gory deaths of Detering, Berger, Müller, and others.
  • It is summer of 1918. Paul and Kat are on a mission. Kat is shot in the shin; Paul carries him hurriedly for miles, only to discover that, when he reaches the triage area, Kat has been hit in the head along the way. As a result, that "splinter" has likely been kept from hitting Paul in the back (Paul was carrying Kat over his shoulder).
  • Paul dies in October, 1918. He is found looking calm. And as if he was relieved to die.
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