Study Guide

All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

  • Paul already appears "old," or at least experienced, as new troops arrive.
  • Kropp jokes, "Seen the infants?" (3.1) – meaning the new recruits, who are two years younger than Paul and his pals.
  • Kat jokes about the scarcity of decent food and promises an upgrade to current fare.
  • Kat has traded string to the cook and offers them beef stew. He warns that this food is for barter purposes only – next time they need to bring him a cigar.
  • Paul goes on about Kat's "sixth sense" for knowing things – Kat leads them to a burnt out shelter, but one with nice beds and cozies.
  • Kat is just such a down to earth, everyday kind of guy, he seems to know where Mother Nature hides things. In another shelter, almost magically, Kat appears with warm bread to share with the troops.
  • They cobble together a nice meal with horse flesh and bread (this is good eats on the Front). Paul notes that Kat's "masterpiece" was producing four boxes of lobsters once – but that Kat's simple, earthy tastes would have preferred beef.
  • Later, the troops are drilling "how to salute" on a sunny day because of Tjaden's bad behavior in failing to salute a superior.
  • The troops joke about how vital it is to salute on the Front.
  • More absurdities mount when Kat rhymes, "Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay and the war would be over and done in a day" – that is, uneven compensation between soldiers and officers is to blame for many of the war's issues.
  • The author contrasts Kat with Kropp "who is a thinker" – Kropp suggests that the War should be fought by the countries' generals. He feels that "the wrong people do the fighting."
  • The group disses drilling and structure and the lunacy of the "skills" they were taught in boot camp. Those skills are useless to them now.
  • They talk about games like "Change at Löhne" – a weird dressing game where men scramble under beds.
  • Suddenly, overhead, a German plane is shot down in an explosion – this is not a game, this is war.
  • Himmelstoss's demeanor is discussed – they criticize Himmelstoss and men like him – small men who try to be big based on their fancy uniforms.
  • Allegorically they describe how men behave more or less just like dogs. Man will do anything and everything that he can get away with.
  • The fairness questions suddenly end when Tjaden excitedly announces that Himmelstoss is on his way – he is coming to the Front (where the rules and regulations are way different than in boot camp, and having an officer's uniform won't save you from bullets).
  • Tjaden especially dislikes Himmelstoss because of the way he "disciplines" bed-wetters.
  • The men dream of ways to get back at Himmelstoss after the war. Kropp decides to enlist in the post office. Since he's more education than Himmelstoss, Kropp could be his superior.
  • Out of nowhere, the men decide to jump Himmelstoss and whip him when he comes home semi-drunk from his nearby regular pub.
  • They jump him one night and Tjaden takes particular delight in the whipping.
  • Himmelstoss staggers away as the men run, undiscovered.
  • Haie says, "Revenge is black-pudding," which, presumably means that revenge is good.

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