All Quiet on the Western Front: Novel Summary: Chapter 3

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Reinforcements arrive, including twenty-five recruits two years younger than Paul and his friends, who feel like hardened veterans by comparison. Kat manages to get them some good food, which is a special talent of his. Kat always manages to get the supplies the men need. When they are quartered in a small factory, there appears to be no food at all available, but Kat goes out to explore and returns with two loaves of bread and fresh horse-meat. He does not explain where he got these luxuries.

Paul, Kropp and Kat sit around discussing the war and reminiscing about the times they had in the training camp. They watch a dogfight between two planes overhead. The German plane is shot down. Then they discuss why Himmelstoss is such a bully. Kat says there are many like him, because the army is based on one man having power over another. Power goes to a man's head, and he soon abuses it. The men are joined by Tjaden, who warns them that Himmelstoss is on his way, and then by Haie. The presence of Haie reminds Paul of an occasion on the last day of their training when they got their revenge on Himmelstoss. They waited on a deserted road for him as he returned from a pub. When he came by they beat him up, having first thrown a blanket over his head so he would not know who his attackers were.

Analysis
This is a quiet chapter which serves to further introduce Paul and his friends. The emphasis is on the ever-resourceful Kat. However, the anti-war theme is not far from the surface. The men who actually have to do the fighting have a different view of the war than the politicians, and this is a novel written entirely from the point of view of the "grunts" in the trenches. Kropp says that the generals and politicians of the opposing countries should fight it out themselves in an arena. That would be a much more just arrangement than the existing one, in which "the wrong people do the fighting." Kat has his explanation of why the army produces so many bullies in positions of power, and there is general ridicule of the drills and parades that are the ritual of army life, which do not prepare a man for what he will face on the front lines.

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