World War I was one of the greatest military conflicts of all time. During this time of great death and destruction men came together and formed support groups. In Paul's group as in most groups there emerges a single leader, someone who can guide and protect its members. Katczinsky was the leader of Paul's intermediate group of friends. This is a quote from a literary analysis of the book "Kat is such an intermediate figure; an army veteran, he stands out as the classic soldier-representative of common sense and survival."(Firda 53). In Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Katczinsky is the leader, provider, and protector of Paul and his comrades.
In the book Katczinsky holds many roles, one of these being the leader of Paul's group. Here is a quote from Paul about Kat, "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ Stanislaus Katczinsky, the leader of our groupÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"(Remarque 3). Kat was the leader of Paul's group mainly because he was so educated in the ways of the front and he had survived for so long. Some of the soldiers would say he had a sixth sense and could feel when there would be a bombing, "Kat, the seasoned veteran, feels the English will bomb the Germans that night"(Firda 44). Not only was he regarded as a survivor but also as a teacher and mentor. "An outstanding mentor and teacher for BaumerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦is Kat"(Firda 36). He was also able to teach the recruits how to survive at the front. Here is a quote in reference to Kat, "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦whom he guides and initiates into the hell of war"(Beetz 102).
Another main role Katczinsky had was to protect Paul and his comrades. It was good to have somebody around with military know-how for Paul this was Kat. Many times during the war gas would be released. You needed someone skilled in trench warfare to know when to put your masks on "Only Kat the army veteran knows how to escape from the death gas"(Firda 46). Kat often save Paul's life, once of these instances is in a cemetery during a shelling "I stare into the face of Katczinsky, he has his mouth wide open and is yelling. I hear nothing, he rattles me, comes nearer in a lull his voice reaches me: "Gassss"Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"(Remarque 67). He also became a sort of father figure for Paul and his comrades. Here is an example when a young recruit gets shot, " "We'll be back soon", says Kat "We are only going to get a stretcher for you" "(Remarque 73). Sometimes you will hear Paul refer to Katczinsky as his brother but their relationship is more like a father and son, "Kat becomes Baumer's surrogate father, and by extension a surrogate father for Baumer's friendsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"(Beetz 102).
The final main role Kat had was as a provider. He was often able to use his sixth sense to find food when it was scarce, " I'm sure if he were planted down in the middle of the desert, in half an hour he would have gathered a supper of roast meat, dates, and wine"(Remarque 39) .At one of these times he was able to find quite a meal, "His masterpiece was four boxes of lobsters"(Remarque 40). He was also able to provide food for recruits who without Kat might starve, "He provides food for young recruits and, in fact, acts loco parentis"(Firda 53). One quote can probably summarize Kat as a provider, and it is one from a literary analysis, "Superb scrounger of food, and battle weary and wary" (Beetz 107).
In All Quiet on the Western Front, Kat plays many roles, all of them equally important and meaningful. As you can see, Paul needed Kat in fact all of his comrades needed him. In war as in life we all look for structure and sometimes a shoulder to lean on. It is funny though that such a meaningful relationship could be formed in such an awful situation. Here is a final quote that summarizes my whole idea; " In Baumer's friendship with Kat we see one of the most beautiful man-to-man relationships in modern literature (Berkeley 71).