Hey there. Managed to squeeze a little time out of my revision to update on here; there’s only so many past papers and notes on the Tre Corone that one can do in an evening before going absolutely barking mad. In any case, I’ll be alleviating my exam/revision related boredom with a little bit of misery. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been good so far, but WWI isn’t the cheeriest subject matter available to write about. Anyway, I believe we left off just after Kemmerich had died, so presumably we can draw the line of cheeriness from death now, and hope that it rises at least a little off the base line.
This time, we start of with some reinforcements to the company, including 25 new recruits; what’s the likelihood that about 80% of them will be cannon fodder before this book is over, do you think? In any case, Katczinsky decides to treat one of the new recruits with some beans and bully beef that he managed to get off of the cook-sergeant from when they all got double rations in chapter 1. Which is rather nice of him. Like I said before, I do love the camaraderie that the soldiers seem to have here; it’s a little spot of brightness in amongst the misery of war.
So now we get a section dedicated to Katczinsky. He seems to be the smart, intuitive one out of the characters that have appeared so far, doing stuff like finding hay for comfortable sleeping and food when there’s no-one and nothing else for miles around. For some reason he reminds me of Red from Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, he can get almost anything within reason. He seems to have the same sort of attitude as Red as well, finding humour where he can in tough situations. A useful kind of guy to have around, regardless.
We now move on to the company relaxing on the sunny side of camp. And before I forget to mention it, I just love this description of the camp here:
“It smells of tar, summertime and sweaty feet.”
I don’t know why, but that just brings a smile to my face; there’s no more description than that here, but it really evokes a sort of carefree feeling about the place, maybe because what we’ve had so far has been so downbeat. In any case, while they’re there Katczinsky and Kropp have a bit of an argument about what the war essentially is like: Kat is off the opinion that after it’s finished, people will just forget about it, while Kropp disagrees, arguing that if countries insist on going to war, their respective leaders should be the ones to fight, not soldiers. That idea would be pretty cool, if it could only be implemented; it would also give us more excuses to play Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” at official events. The conversation then sort of drifts along into discussions (and probably a lot of bitching) about drill. Most of which I still consider useless. From drill, we move to Himmelstoss (the horrific instructor from chapter 2) and the idea that putting a man in uniform and a position of power over other people turns them into horrible people. Which is pretty much true. Well done for figuring that out before the psychologists, guys. In any case, our paragraph ends with the revelation that Himmelstoss has been called out to the front. I’m going to sound very cruel, but if he dies, there will be part of me cheering.
So the soldiers who had trained under Himmelstoss are rather pleased that he’s now at the front, presumably because they can get some payback on him. Indeed, we’re shown a rather satisfying revenge that Bäumer, Kropp, Haie and Tjaden carried out the night before they left for the front: namely beating him up in a back alley. Not the most honourable of schemes ever, but damn that has got to be satisfying. And on that satisfying note, we end our chapter. And we’re quarter of the way already.
My favourite chapter so far, because we get to see more about some of the other men in the company and I presumably have a lot to look forward to with Himmelstoss now at the front.