The Major Role of Minor Characters in "All Quiet on the West essays
"It is so unfortunate that Field Marshals, like myself, get all the credit for the planning of a battle.Part of that credit belongs to the lower ranking generals, who advise us, and to the colonels, majors and captains who advise them.With out these lower ranking officers, a Field Marshal would be completely irrelevant to this or any war."German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel wrote this in a letter to his wife on September 16, 1942 (Liddell –Hart 291).
Rommel's views on lower ranking officers can easily be applied to the minor characters in Erich Maria Remarque's novel "All Quiet on the Western Front."Were it not for the minor characters in the novel, Paul Baumer's character would be as irrelevant as a Field Marshal without any advisers.The minor characters play a crucial role in the novel, but three above all.Corporal Himmelstoss plays an important role in forwarding the plot, Gérard Duvall aids in characterization and Kantorek helps establish a theme of the novel.
Himmelstoss, who was a postman before the war, becomes a corporal when the war starts, and is made a training officer at the army barracks at Klosterberg.In this position, Himmelstoss had too much power over the lives of his men, and he allowed it to corrupt him, and soon gets the reputation of being the "terror of Klosterberg," (Remarque 10).Himmelstoss is especially abusive to Paul Baumer's class.This abuse is described very well in second chapter of the novel, as Paul says "…under his orders I scrubbed the Corporals' mess with a tooth brush.Kropp and I were given the job of clearing the barrack – square of snow with a hand – broom and a dust – pan," (23).
However, this cruelty did serve a purpose.As a result of the constant drills Himmelstoss had Paul and his classmates perform in the muddy field, the soldiers were better prepared for the front,…