90 pages 3 hours read

Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1929

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Chapter 4

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary

The chapter begins with Paul describing the calm before the storm. The setting is almost peaceful and quiet. Paul and his comrades are in good spirits and even joke with fellow troops from a different squadron. Paul does not explicitly mention where the squadron is heading, but as the relative calm of the chapter’s beginning is abruptly broken, he reveals that they are near the front. Paul and his comrades suddenly find themselves amid a heavy bombardment. Their survival instincts kick in, and Paul, although he struggles to articulate it, equates these instincts with the primitive nature in human beings. As artillery flies overhead, it is almost as though the body acts entirely on its own.

The rest of the chapter is a wild and graphic scene. Paul describes in much sensory detail what happens while at the front. Among the more disturbing details are the injuries suffered by the many horses brought to the front. The use of horses, an outdated mode of transportation during war, juxtaposes with the artillery of modern warfare and the use of chemical agents. The sounds made by the injured horses are too much for the men to endure. Ultimately, all of the wounded horses are shot dead by those who have brought them to the front.