Study Guide

Detering in All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque

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Detering is, in essence, a total sweetie-pie. He spends the entire novel missing his wife and his farm back in Oldenburg.

He also has a soft spot when it comes to animals: his biggest emotional outburst comes when horses are wounded during a particularly gruesome battle. As the horses scream in agony, Detering yells,

"God! For God's sake! Shoot them! […] Like to know what harm they've done." (4.60-71)

The other men have to hold him back; he's so upset over the animals' pain that he wants to rush out into the melee and put them out of their misery.

It might be this episode that sends Detering over the edge. He essentially goes crazy after coming across a flowering cherry tree and becomes paralyzed by homesickness. He steals a branch from the tree and muses erratically about the cherry trees back home in his garden. In the wee hours of the night, Paul wakes to find him packing. Two days later, Detering is nowhere to be found; he's run away.

The men later discover that Detering has been found and court-martialed. He's never seen again.

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