All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 3 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

In Chapter 3 of ''All Quiet on the Western Front,'' Paul tells us more about his fellow soldier Katczinsky and talks about how war changes the men who run it. Read on for a short summary of the chapter.

Previously in All Quiet on the Western Front

Paul contemplated his life at home before the war and realized that, unlike some of the older men who pushed for war, he has little to go back to when the war is over. Paul also thinks about how some of the older men, as leaders of the war, abuse their power over the younger soldiers. After spending this time in thought, Paul visits his dying friend Kemmerich in the soldiers' hospital tent and sits with him until Kemmerich passes away.

'We couldn't do without Katczinsky'

Paul and his friends look at some new soldiers fresh out of training as they arrive at the camp, and their older friend and fellow soldier Katczinsky sees a chance to establish himself as the man with goods to trade. He walks up to one soldier and invites him to have a good meal. This is a big deal because in training camp, the men have eaten mostly bread made out of turnips. The new soldier, as well as Paul and his friends, are all shocked to find that Kat has a large pot of beef and green beans hidden away. Kat gives the soldier some food, telling him that next time, he should bring tobacco to trade if he wants more food, and then shares the food with Paul and his friends for free.

Paul thinks about how resourceful Kat is. Kat's ability to find food and supplies -- even though they are very scarce because Germany is losing the war and running out of materials -- helps to keep Paul and his friends warm and well-fed. To illustrate Kat's abilities, Paul recalls a time when, cold and hungry on the front lines, Kat found straw to sleep in and then found horse meat and fresh bread to eat even though another soldier said that there was no food to be found anywhere nearby.

Conversations About War

After eating their beef and green beans, Paul sits with his friends Kat, Tjaden, and Kropp and discusses the war. Kropp mocks the leaders of the army for caring more about having the soldiers salute than figuring out a way to win. He argues that any war should be held in an arena like a sporting event. In Kropp's idea, the country's leaders are given clubs and whoever survives wins the war for their country.

Kat disagrees. He believes that the people in power, such as the government's leaders and the leaders of the war, would be more ready to end the war if they had to live with the same food and conditions as the regular soldiers: 'Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay/And the war would be over and done in a day.'

As they talk, the soldiers hear some new recruits going through training drills on a nearby field. They talk about how their instruction seemed silly and that the instructors drilled them in ways that did not help them become better soldiers. They bring up Himmelstoss, who instructed some of them, and point out that men who are given authority in the military change from kind, normal people to power mad individuals.

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