Study Guide

Stanislaus Katczinsky (Kat) in All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque

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Stanislaus Katczinsky (Kat)

Top Dog

Kat is the leader of the pack in almost every way. He's forty, mature, strong, and has a distinctive sixth sense in identifying trouble, which the other men admire greatly. The dude also knows how to catch and cook a wild goose. In short: he's the kind of guy you want to be sent to war with, and Paul knows how lucky he is that Kat has his back.

Kat becomes Paul's closest friend and ally in the course of the story. He believes in duty, despite not personally embracing the ideals of war. In fact, although he fights with as much heart as any of them, he has more than a little bit of contempt for the higher-ups who drive the war forward:

"Let a man be whatever you like in peace-time, what occupation is there in which he can behave like that without getting a crack on the nose? He can only do that in the army. It goes to the heads of them all, you see. And the more insignificant a man has been in civil life the worse it takes him." (3.55)

At the end of the book, Kat sustains a minor injury—shrapnel in his leg—and Paul carries him to the safety of a medic. Unfortunately, Kat sustains another injury—shrapnel in his brain—while Paul is carrying him and dies almost instantly. This death is among the most shocking for Paul; he had assumed his friend was only slightly wounded. Perhaps partially as a result of Kat's senseless and sudden death, Paul dies shortly thereafter.

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